FROM KEYSTONE TO THE BADLANDS
From the Park we head South West into the Black Hills. The Beattle’s song Rocky Racoon runs through my head. I stop in a very lovely town named Nemo. A population of 548 but it looks more like 10. There must be a number of people living remotely. There is a general store, hotel and campground right on the road. There is a flock (?) of wild turkeys grazing in the Store’s front yard. I buy a bottle of locally made wine and a bundle of firewood… high hopes for a cozy evening ahead.
There are too many wonderful spots to stop and wander here. A beautiful fishing spot takes up at least an hour of our time. More evidence of the wild storm that blew through.
As we drive toward one of two open camp areas the temperature begins to drop and the rain begins turning to snow. I’m not worried about getting stuck on these partially maintained roads if we don’t get too much snow. Sadly the road to the camp area still has at least a foot of snow and I can’t pass. The though of getting stuck in the snow begins to concern me. What if it comes down harder than predicted and I can’t get out? With great disappointment I head back toward Nemo. There are several roads on the state campground map that I have but they turn out to be deeply rutted gravel with large portions of mud. I decide to turn completely around and head back to Rapid City. The scenery along the way is beautiful.
Once back on I90 in Rapid City, my stubborn nature comes out and I decide to take a back road to the Badlands… Now that the parks in South Dakota are open I can spend a day there! It’s getting late but according to the map there’s a National Grasslands along the way where I can find a spot to car-camp. The road is paved but in poor condition.
I turn off onto the Buffalo gap national grasslands road. The pavement quickly ends and I find myself on soft gravel. The rain is coming down fast and furious now and it’s clear that most flat areas here are starting to flood. As I gain higher ground it’ becomes clear that, although this is National property, it’s grazing ground for the beef industry. There are small herds of cattle along the road. Down over another hill and I see what seems to be individual cattle scattered across the plains. As I get closer I realize that these were the herds devastated by the blizzard.
All of these cows are dead.
How very sad.
Well, It’s clear that I’m not camping in this area so once again, today, I’m turned away. Once again, it’s getting late, dark and colder and I still have no place for the night.