Badlands & Effigy Mounds
I started out the day driving from Wall to the Badlands National Park. At the entrance, there was a warning about staying away from Prairie dogs, since they carry plague. Very different from most of the other parks I visited that had prairie dog towns, that apparently do not have the problem.
It is very hard to describe the Badlands. It is hot, dry, and windy, not really a nice place to visit at all. But the views are actually very beautiful, even if they are not full of lush landscapes and a bountiful supply of wildlife. This was my second time driving through the park, and I had forgotten how moving it could be.It would have been easy to just sit and look out over the lower plains and the hills.
I saw very little wildlife on the trip through, the highlight being the red-tailed hawk. There was also a white-tailed doe near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, and what were apparently 2 turkey buzzards soaring over the area east of the Door trail.
The Effigy Mounds National Monument were very different from the Badlands. I was heading home and noticed that the monument was a little bit south of my route, and it would probably not add too much time to my trip. It added more than I planned but that was hardly the first time that happened.
It was drizzling while I was there, so it was not the best circumstances for hiking through the forest. But I don't seem to melt in water, so it didn't really bother me. I listened to a short presentation by a park ranger (once again I was the only one there, so it was more of a conversation, which is a nice way to learn things) before taking the hike.
The views over the Mississippi were very nice, even if it was hazy due to the rain. The only part of the hike that was somewhat disappointing was my inability to get a good picture of the animal effigy mounds. They were just too large and I could not find a good vantage point to take a picture that showed any large amount of the mounds. I mentioned to the rangers they needed to add some kind of elevated platform so people could get a better view. They didn't see to be really enthused about the idea.