Badlands

As you are cruising down I-90 in South Dakota, you start to notice a slow change in the scenery in the distance. Then suddenly rising from the wind swept prairies and cow pastures, you are greeted by the stunning formations of Badlands National Park

The Badlands are just absolutely beautiful. I don’t know what I was expecting but I wasn’t expecting all of this:

The park is very large and the Ben Reifel Visitor Center is the main visitor center for the whole park. Depending on how you enter the park, the visitor center may not be close. The parking lot is also very small compared to the size of the park so just a heads up there. 

There are lots of great view points and kid friendly trails. We enjoyed the Window Trail, Door Trail and the Fossil Exhibit Trailhead.

The most popular hike in the park is the Notch Trailhead. This trail leads you to a log ladder that you can climb up to an awesome view. Unfortunately, it had rained the night before our visit and this trail was too muddy for our liking during our visit but you should try it for yours. 

We were able to see several kinds of animals throughout the park. The prairie dogs were plentiful and we even saw some roaming bison. The bison are mainly near the Pinnacles Entrance as there is more open prairie at this end of the park. 

Another great thing about Badlands is that there is another National Historic site close by. Located on Interstate 90 is the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

This is an absolutely fascinating stop where you can learn about the Cold War and the nuclear arsenal stored nearby. You stop by the visitor center to watch the movie, see the displays and gather the Jr Ranger book. Then you can stop at other locations along I90 and see the now decommissioned missile sites and bunkers. Don’t skip over this stop. 

Another great stop on I90 is Wall Drug Store. You can’t miss it because there are a million signs along the interstate pointing you that way. This is a large complex filled with a drug store, restaurant, shops, kids play area and even a splash pad. There are Tesla charging stations also available. It is an iconic stop and its just plain fun. 

Just as you are leaving Wall Drug, you will pass right by the National Grasslands Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is currently being renovated but you can still pick up a super fun Jr Ranger booklet and earn another badge. The booklet is focused on the black footed ferret and my kids really enjoyed this one. 

The Badlands were stunning and, despite the location appearing the be in the middle of nowhere, there is actually a lot to be done in this area of South Dakota.

Happy Travels!

Roswell

The drive from Santa Fe to Carlsbad, New Mexico is long. Empty fields for 4 1/2 hours. The one thing to look forward to is the pitstop at Roswell.

I’m sure you all know the story.  A mysterious object crashed into a field outside of Roswell in the summer of 1947. Was it a UFO? A weather balloon? Spycraft? The truth seems to be a bit muddled but the city of Roswell is sticking with UFO and they have bought into the story 100%.  

Every part of town is Alien themed. That includes the McDonald’s shaped like a spaceship and the local minor league baseball team (Roswell Invaders) sporting an Alien Head in the middle of their team logo. Most of the main attractions are on Main Street, including the spaceship McDonald’s. 

We were a little short on time during our stop so we had to pick between the International UFO Museum or the Roswell UFO Spacewalk. There was an alien autopsy scene at the International UFO museum that I thought might be a little intense for the kids so we opted for the Spacewalk.

The Roswell UFO Spacewalk is this super adorable little place put together by a charming couple. They obviously worked very hard on this blacklight walk through. Entrance fee was very reasonable and you can walk through as many times as you would like. If you have little kids, this is the stop for you. I loved this place, I loved the owners, and I loved that they seemed to do it all just for fun. 

This was a great stop to stretch our legs, do some tacky tourists shopping, and then get back on the road to Carlsbad. 

For Your Trip

You have to get a picture by the Roswell sign. There are signs at 4 different entrances into town and all of them are a little different. Google which one you want to stop at but you need to get that picture. Another random picture you may want to get is a piece of art called Cowboy Ruckus by John Cerney. This is located north of Roswell (about 70 miles or so). 

The cowboys are 18ft tall

Roswell is a good sized town. You could probably spend a whole day there as there are several parks in the area including Bottomless Lake State park and museums including Roswell Museum and a Contemporary Art Museum. The International UFO Museum looks like a great stop if you have older kids. New attractions also seem to be popping up everyday so make sure to stop at the Roswell Visitors Center for the latest info. All the major grocery store chains are in town so stock up before you head out into those open fields again. And don’t forget to watch the skies on the way out of town 😉