We wandered through Wall Drug again in the morning for coffee. Refills are only 5 cents!… As advertised on multiple billboards. Apparently Wall doesn’t have any dedicated coffee shops, so we we inadvertently played the tourist role of getting nearly free coffee at the end of the 100 mile billboard chain.
It was very foggy in the morning and as we entered the park due to the rain the night before, but it had mostly cleared up just after entering the park. A little lower altitude maybe?
First stop was at the yellow mounds overlook long enough to discover the clay-mud that had been created by the rain the night before. It was slippery, so it made climbing the hills dangerous, but also sticky which had the effect of walking around with 5 pound mud boots on until the clump got heavy enough to fall off.
We did a small portion of the Castle Trail, which was the other end of the long Medicine Root loop we had done on the previous visit, but it became pretty uninteresting after a mile or so, so we turned back. It was mostly hiking through low brush, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly interesting to see and we were heading out knowing that it needed to be an out-and-back hike so anything uninteresting that we passed on the way out we were going to have to pass again on the way back.
Third stop was at the Saddle Pass Trail – again a connector to the Medicine Root Trail. It’s a short but steep climb up the side of a plateau.
Fourth hike was Notch trail, which we had done before. One of the most prominent features is a wooden rung ladder heading up the side of a valley. The other notable, but temporary, feature was a pair of rattlesnakes about 3 feet off the trail. We spent a bit of time wandering off the trail in the non-snakey areas just seeing what other areas and views were accessible. Wandering off the trails seems to be accepted and even encouraged in the Badlands.
Our last stop on the way out of the park was another overlook where we once again experienced the clay-boots effect and got to see some distant bison.
This was our last stop before heading out of the park and starting the drive home. We stopped just over the Missouri river at a McDonald’s to fill up on coffee and chocolate soft serve ice cream, and eventually stopped for the night at some unremarkable Motel 6 in Lacross, WI.