We had time for a drive through the whole park in the evening after checking into Sleepy Hollow Campground in Wall, our recommendation for a park in the area. We also got a National Park Pass...so who knows where we will decide to go next year to take advantage of that pass?
I wasn't worried about not spotting Bighorn Sheep in Colorado or Custer because I knew we'd see them in the Badlands.
We didn't see any big rams, but you can't have everything, right?
I couldn't wait to get up early in the morning and get into the park again, hoping to get some of that great light that makes it all worth it. And another look at the Bighorn Sheep of course, this time from Sage Creek Road just inside the park boundary.
The prairie grasses were aglow, such a great contrast to the layers of time lurking in the background.
The prairie is what it's really about here in South Dakota, and nothing is more important to the ecosystem than the lowly prairie dog. Their burrows provide them with shelter from both the weather and predators, and many other species can take shelter in the prairie dogs' tunnels too including burrowing owls and unfortunately for them even snakes.
They aren't a favorite of the ranchers and the farmers, but their presence is critical to the overall ecological community of the mixed-grass prairie. I walked through Robert's Prairie Dog Town, trying not to alarm them too much, but intrigued by their system of relaying yips and barks to each other to warn of possible danger.
And then right across the road I walked, and immersed myself in the prairie some more. I wandered across the grass and up and down the hills for half an hour before turning back and reluctantly heading back to the truck.
I haven't read them yet, but I got the kindle editions of "Black Elk Speaks" and "Lakota Woman". I'll be continuing my journey through South Dakota in my mind and through learning more about its history.
It's not all hiking and outdoor adventure in South Dakota, we made time for some silly fun at Wall Drug. Where else can you ride a jackelope after all?