Badlands and Black Hills

Logan and I had both never seen the Badlands or the Black Hills, so on our way up to Glacier we decided to swing through both places. We were coming from Omaha, so we drove about 6 hours the first night and stayed on a spot near the river about an hour outside of Yankton. It was an awesome spot and we probably would have stayed longer if we weren’t on somewhat of a schedule. 

The following morning we drove further into the Badlands. It was super hot out, and no pets were allowed inside the trails, so we did more of a drive through the park and stopped at some scenic pull-offs. On one of the first scenic stops, we saw some big horned sheep!!

After the drive-through, we headed straight for our spot for the night. We found an area on iOverlander that was about 10 minutes from the park, drove around for a while trying to find the most level spot that we could, and ended up in a sweet little area. We were pretty glad we got there earlier because as the night went on it filled up pretty fast.

We were contemplating spending another day in the Badlands to explore it more, but it was still too hot so we headed for the Black Hills. We have two MaxAir fans and a mini AC unit, but on the 95+ days, it just can’t keep up. The plan for the day was to find our spot, settle in, go for a mini-hike and then hang out for the rest of the day. The plan did not quite happen as we had thought.

We got to the location where we were going to post up for the night (an iOverlander spot in the Black Hills) and decided to do a little exploring to see if we could get a better spot to park. It had been raining all day, so the roads were getting quite muddy, and we only have 2WD. When we went to keep exploring, the road kept getting narrower, downhill, and we had nowhere to turn around. When we finally found a spot to turn around, the rain had done its damage; the wheels were turning, but we weren’t moving. As you can probably guess what happened next… we got stuck. At the bottom of a forest area. With no cell service. At this point, it looked like it was going to keep raining for a while, so we thought we would just camp out where we got stuck and hope for the rain to clear up one of these days. (We intended on walking to find cell service to tell our families so they wouldn’t worry). We made some ramen, Big Chungus enjoyed the views, and we waited for the mud to dry. Thankfully after about 2 hours, the ground started to dry enough where we were miraculously able to send it back up the hilly area. We scouted for a new spot and then decided to take what we could find and be thankful that we weren’t stuck anymore 🙂

The next day was finally a hiking day!! We got to Sylvan lake, and with it being the 4th of July it was getting pretty packed. After we snagged a parking spot, we took Big Chungus on a walk around the lake. The mini-hike was a little loop, about 1.2 miles, and had some great views. Once we got back to the van we made some lunch and then prepped for our hike up Black Elk Peak. Black Elk Peak is the highest peak East of the Rockies and we would highly recommend it! The views were amazing.

Once we hiked our way back down the lake was looking reeaaal nice. What better way to celebrate a long hike than to jump in the lake right after? We gave BC the option to go swimming with us, but she declined the offer.

Instead of staying in the Black Hills longer, we decided it was time to start making our way up to Glacier! That night we drove into Wyoming and stayed on some BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land on an abandoned oil field.

Sylvan Lake 

Black Elk Peak

Sylvan Lake Trail 

The abandoned oil field