Gillette, Wyo., to Chamberlain, S.D.

We got a late start (again), so this will be a short post.

Heading east from Gillette, Wyo., we left the Far West behind and entered the Great Plains. It’s still spring, so the grasslands were brilliant green. As we entered the Black Hills of South Dakota, we saw how they got their name: in contrast to the grasslands, the hills covered with conifers appear black.

The Black Hills of South Dakota as seen across the grasslands

Carol asked a pleasant man at the visitor center just over the South Dakota border if there was anything we should see. He recommended the auto tour route through Badlands National Park. The more popular viewpoints were pretty crowded, with many overweight tourists. We decided to hike part of the Castle Trail. Within a half mile from the trailhead parking lot, there were no other people. It took an hour to go two miles, because I kept stopping to take photos of flowers (Plains Pricklypear, Sego Lily, several flowers in the legume family, etc.) and birds (Rock Wren, Say’s Phoebe, Red-winged Blackbird, etc.) and even a few photos of the dramatic landscape.

Along Castle Trail, Badlands National Park

By the time we got to the Saddle Pass Trail, the sky was looking pretty dark. Lightning flashed in the distance.

Dark clouds from Saddle Pass

We headed back as quickly as we could; the return trip took a little less than half an hour. A few drops of rain starting falling as we got into our car.

Light rain continued most of the way from Badlands National Park to Chamberlain, S.D. And right now, the rain is coming down in buckets, pounding on the roof of the motel. “We got here just in time,” Carol just said. “It would not have been fun driving in that.”

My iNaturalist observations for June 24