Day 25 – Chamberlain to Interior – Badlands National Park

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We woke up to overcast skies again, but it wasn’t really raining until we decided to hit the road of course, when torrential rain started to come down! Still, we got going and we’re once again on the I-90 – that is another pink highway (see pictures below) that incorporates the local pink quartzite, like the stuff we saw at Pipestone.
I planned the trip so that we’d have to drive through the Badlands National Park to our accommodation, with a quick pit stop at Wall Drug Store, which is something all the guides mention you should do. Wall is a town that is most famous for the Wall Drug Store, which was started by a guy called Ted Hustead in the 1930’s and that has now grown to an entire shopping mall with lots of different shops. You start seeing the advertising boards for Wall Drug Store about 300 miles before you get to it, so you kinda have to stop just to see what the fuss is about! We duly stopped and got out to freezing temperatures and an icy wind. Wall Drug Store isn’t all that interesting to be honest, but we did see some good cowboy hats and shirts and had a cup of coffee.
We then ventured into the Badlands National Park – free with our $80 ‘America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Annual Pass’ that we purchased at Pipestone – it allows you free access to loads of National Parks. We started driving and were very, very impressed. The Badlands is hard to describe but incredibly beautiful and impressive. We got out at loads of lookout points and took a stupid amount of pictures, despite the freezing wind! I really loved Badlands National Park and I’m sure the pictures won’t do it justice, but I tried.
Eventually we finished the drive and checked into our motel for the night in Interior, which was huge but had no TV and initially we thought no heating either! Fortunately we figured out the heating eventually and ventured into town for a couple of beers and a very disgusting chicken sandwich that I don’t even want to recall. The place was called the Wagon Wheel Bar & Grill and practically everything in it has something to do with gambling – from one armed bandits, to dropping coins in a glass to playing dice with the bar staff. When I say town, I mean a very small collection of tiny houses/shacks – the town’s population is 94 according to the 2010 census (or 67 on the local sign) and it is very quiet; although they were advertising a rodeo on the weekend, so maybe we should have stayed! Another early night with movies on the laptop.
Things I learned today: Don’t trust reviews about food in dodgy bars; trust your instincts! Badlands is an incredible experience, don’t skip it if you’re ever in the area – even though the guidebooks don’t make a big deal about it is is absolutely amazing and worth seeing!
PS: Fortunately the next morning was bright and sunny, and we got a few more pictures of the incredible formations of the Badlands.

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