Badlands National Park
We visited the Badlands National Park and experienced our first taste of the wildlife and nature out west. Coming from the east, the badlands just...show up. You're driving along the highway and you just see a bunch of grassy fields, when all of a sudden BANG there are the badlands. It happens so suddenly that it's jarring...in a good way.
Our first few nights we stayed in a place called Cedar Pass Campground, which was run by the National Park Service. It was a nice place to be, but most people were only there for a few nights. Speaking of nights, the sky was beautiful out there, and none of the campers ran their lights because of it. You could see the milky way with the naked eye. Truly a sight to behold. In fact, here's a photo from a friend we made while out there.
The daytime wasn't bad either though. After spending a day working and doing school, we went on the Notch trail. Which was a ton of fun. We read a bunch of reviews of the trail and some people said "the ladder" was intimidating...which made us eager to see what that was all about.
The ladder was a little intimidating...but we enjoyed both the hike and the overlook.
The badlands are bizzare. They looked different than anything we had ever seen. They look like sandcastles, and from a distance, look like they might blow over with the wind, but up close, they're almost as solid as rock. Maybe more like REALLY hard mud.
Actually - a better visual is when you make sandcastles, and you mix water and sand and let it run out of your hand onto the castle...it's like that.
When we set off on this adventure, we knew we would want to be self-sufficient if possible, so we bought a generator. This trip gave us the perfect opportunity to try it out.
It was amazing.
We had the most relaxing weekend because we didn't feel the need to go anywhere to experience nature. We had it all around us. So we walked along the rim of the badlands, shot our bb gun at some targets, took a nap, and enjoyed the beauty around us. The sunsets were beautiful, and the stars were incredible.
The next day, there were big horn sheep that grazed through our campsite. It was truly an incredible experience. All in all, I think the Wall Dispersed area is a great place to try our hand at dry camping. We will definitely do it again.
A few notes about boondocking:
It's not for everyone. That should go without saying, but it's not. You have to be extremely conservative with your water, and you really don't want to fill your black tank up, otherwise you've got to take a trip to the nearest dump station, which means you have to pack up your rig and head into town. No showers either...not enough water. In my opinion, it's still super nice to have hot water and electricity ... and air conditioning. Really it's pretty easy.
Electricity isn't a problem with a generator - but gas kind of is. So, like everything else, conserve and plan ahead. Every time we went into town, I brought my gas can and topped it off. My generator can run something like 20 hours on a full tank of gas. But that tank is like 2.5 gallons.
Make sure your propane is topped off. Because you'll need it for heat, fridge, cooking and more. The generator is great, but you can't run AC + the microwave + the fridge. So you'll need to run your fridge on propane. Probably a good idea to use it for your hot water heater too if you're using hot water. But the fridge thing especially -- if you're not prepared and have food in the fridge, you might run into issues if you run out of propane or haven't prepared accordingly.
It's quiet, and at night it's dark. Incredibly so. We tried to follow the lead of our neighbors with our lights, noise level and etiquette in order to NOT be the loudest, brightest offenders. Those types of gestures are often noticed, appreciated and reciprocated.
Any time we dry camp (boondock) we'll post info about where we stayed so you can check out our videos and cross-reference others. Our next dry camping experience will probably be on the beach. That looks pretty cool.
Wall Dispersed Area
East off 240, drive near the rock wall area and pick a spot along the drive.
Water and Dump Stations are available in Wall, SD, which is about 5 miles from this location.
Our GPS Situation:
We don't use an actual GPS. We're still experimenting, but for long hauls to unknown territory, we don't use Apple Maps, or even Google Maps, because they quickly re-route you into narrow roads, low overhangs, and streets that aren't ideal for a 50+ ft rig. Here are the mobile apps we use:
Copilot GPS ($40) - Offline Maps, difficult to add your destination, but otherwise pretty solid. This is the one we use most. Still hate how difficult it is to add destination.
RV Smart Router - needs signal to function, but works really well. Subscription service (10/week etc).