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First time camping trip to the Badlands

ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
edited May 2019 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi everyone,

Later this month I am going on a camping trip with two friends to the Badlands in South Dakota. I've been reading various guides and safety suggestions, but wanted to get some final advice here. The plan is for me to fly out to Minneapolis where my friends live and to then drive to the park, which will take about 8-9 hours with a few stops, and then we will stay 3 days and nights at the Cedar Pass campground. We would be relatively novice campers so we would stick close to the visitor center or wherever park rangers suggest is best for us to go.

My main questions are:

1. What should I worry about in terms of flying with camping gear? No fire starting equipment or bug spray - is there anything else I should plan for?
2. Is there anything I can get easily at the park visitor center that I should avoid carrying on the way?
3. What should I certainly bring (or not bring) based on the list I put together below?
4. What should we aim to see or avoid?

And of course, any safety tips or other suggestions would be very helpful! Thank you!
  • Topographic map
  • Hiking boots (bringing spare hiking shoes)
  • Jacket
  • Hiking pack
  • Water pack/bottle that holds a gallon
  • Food (dehydrated food, trail mix)
  • First aid
  • Bug repellent (purchase at visitor center or after flight?)
  • Sleeping bag (for 45 – 55 Fahrenheit)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Tent
  • Tarp
  • Eating utensils
  • Rope/cord
  • Compass
  • Spare phone battery
  • Lamp
  • Binoculars (my friends want to see some of the wildlife from a distance)


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Posts

  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    I’d want a good knife, but obviously you can’t take that on the plane. Not sure how much you plan to hike and carry on your person versus just leaving it in the vehicle. Sleeping pad is not really necessary imho. Likely only need one good pair of shoes or boots for hiking. Your list has a lot of weight just at a quick glance.

    Don’t count on getting much useful at the visitor center. It’s gonna be largely tourist knickknacks (T-shirts, shotglasses, stickers)and such, maybe some food if you’re lucky.

    I visited the park about 20 years ago but sadly I remember very little in the way of uniquely interesting features in the park itself. After the first ten minutes of “wow that’s really some unusual geology” it all started to look the same. We mostly just stayed on the road that loops through, and got out once or twice to look around though.

    If you have a chance I’d suggest popping over to Rushmore. Yeah it’s tacky and touristy and the area immediately outside the park is grossly commercialized, but the carvings are awe-inspiring.

    Oh and this is slightly before you reach the Badlands but if you’ve been driving on I-90 for 9 hours you will definitely want to stop in Wall. It’s...an experience.

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  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    You absolutely will want a walking stick/pole. Something with a sharp grip on the ground end. If it rains even a little bit, the badlands become intensely slick and you’ll be ever grateful for the third point of contact during hiking.

    I’d add visiting Crazy Horse Memorial if you end up going to Rushmore and such. As long as it isn’t too foggy, the view is quite spectacular.

    Fog and rain kind of ruin a lot of the splendor of the area for a short visit, so hopefully you don’t have too much, but you’ll want to plan for rain because it’s definitely not uncommon to have an afternoon storm blow through, so hooded jacket, spare dry socks, and whatever else you’d expect should be thought about. The

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    We went several decades ago in a pop-up camper (pre Yellowstone fire) and the stand out features were the bugs and heat.

    What are your food plans? Cooking by fire?

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  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    Are you camping or hiking? My memory is that you can basically drive up to the camp ground and setup a tent.

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    You can put most things (including knives and liquids) in checked luggage, which I assume you will need unless you can fit all your camping gear in hand luggage.

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  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    If you have the time and availability, I'd suggest you take a CPR and First Aid course. Just enough to keep someone alive until help arrives kind of stuff. CPR, tourniquet, broken leg, things like that. I'm not talking about how to build a shelter from twigs and leaves, or how to survive without supplies and civilization.

    Elvenshae
  • ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
    Thanks all, sorry for the delayed follow up:
    I’ll try to cut the weight by ordering the food and having it shipped to my friend’s place so I don’t have to take it on the plane, but I am still deciding on what to get. I’ve been working out a lot lately so my daily intake has been 3000 calories a day. We’re planning on at least some hiking, so I’ll see if I can prepare for at least 2500. We were thinking dehydrated food and trail mix.

    I’ll bring a knife in my checked luggage as it has been helpful with cutting rope and tarp when storms come by and the tent needs extra cover.

    We’ll be staying at a developed campsite close to the car, so we can leave a lot of stuff behind. But as I mentioned, we’d want to do at least some hiking, I know I can hike for at least 4-6 hours, so hopefully we can see some nice sites, though I know the bigger portions of the park are much farther out.

    I have had CPR training, but not much more than that. I will see what I can do in the meantime for basic first aid.

    Thank you for all the suggestions, I will see what we can fit in!

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  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    Something to keep in mind for cooking: (this is from the national park service website)
    Experience Badlands National Park overnight and enjoy its breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, colorful flowers, bountiful wildlife, and rugged scenery from one of two campgrounds available in the park: Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground.

    Both campgrounds are open year-round, and camping is limited to 14 days. Due to fire danger, campfires are not permitted in either campground and collection of wood is prohibited. However, camp stoves or contained charcoal grills can be used in campgrounds and picnic areas. When using charcoal grills, ensure the charcoal is cool prior to disposal to prevent a trash fire.

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  • BrodyBrody The Watch The First ShoreRegistered User regular
    Yeah, one of you is probably going to want to bring a camp stove, and at least one pot so you can actually cook stuff on the stove (forgot that one time backpacking, it was unpleasant). Depending on how close the car is, you can always bring a cooler, and pack refrigerator stuff if you are careful about not leaving it open. Its been a while since I've done much of this, but iirc doing a lot of cooler food, and when backpacking freeze dried/dehydrated food that you add water and then cook. Eating a lot of dehydrated food while hiking is less good because its going to dehydrate you faster.

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  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    Thanks all, sorry for the delayed follow up:
    I’ll try to cut the weight by ordering the food and having it shipped to my friend’s place so I don’t have to take it on the plane, but I am still deciding on what to get. I’ve been working out a lot lately so my daily intake has been 3000 calories a day. We’re planning on at least some hiking, so I’ll see if I can prepare for at least 2500. We were thinking dehydrated food and trail mix.

    I’ll bring a knife in my checked luggage as it has been helpful with cutting rope and tarp when storms come by and the tent needs extra cover.

    We’ll be staying at a developed campsite close to the car, so we can leave a lot of stuff behind. But as I mentioned, we’d want to do at least some hiking, I know I can hike for at least 4-6 hours, so hopefully we can see some nice sites, though I know the bigger portions of the park are much farther out.

    I have had CPR training, but not much more than that. I will see what I can do in the meantime for basic first aid.

    Thank you for all the suggestions, I will see what we can fit in!

    Depending on how long you're there and where you're camping you might want to look into taking a day to do a horse ride as well. They aren't horribly expensive and you can end up covering quite a bit of ground and seeing some great views.

  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    Make sure someone has a way to call for help if you need it. Cell phones are nice if you still have a signal out there- it might be something to call and check; and it might be a good idea to spring for some car/pocket chargers to make sure you'll have power, or some sort of emergency beacon if you go out hiking and someone gets a broken leg or snakebite or something.

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  • ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
    Just got caught up, thanks all for the updates!

    I will keep in mind the impact of the food we eat while hiking and making sure we stay hydrated. My friend has a portable stove that can be used as he noticed the ban on campfires. Another friend really like horse riding, so I’ll suggest that, thank you!

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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    Last time I was out there it was quite rattlesnakey. If you see one, just keep your distance. You're more likely to hear them then see them though, so just keep an eye out.

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  • ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
    Last time I was out there it was quite rattlesnakey. If you see one, just keep your distance. You're more likely to hear them then see them though, so just keep an eye out.

    Yup that’s been on my mind. I’ll make sure we avoid cluttered ground and keep our tents shut. Though it looks like there will be scattered storms when we go, so that might make it easier to avoid them.

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  • NebulousQNebulousQ Registered User regular
    I would bring a sleeping pad. I bring a pad even when backpacking and it helps me sleep better.

    If the stove you have is a backpacking stove practice setting it up and lighting it before you get to the campsite.

    Check to see if there is potable water at your campsite. If not, buy a water filter.

    While a gallon of water storage is good to have, you probably also want a smaller water bottle for shorter day hikes. Carrying a gallon of water around can be a pain.

    Buying maps at the ranger center is probably the most convenient way to get them. It might be a little more expensive and if you are going at a busy time to a popular park they might be sold out

  • FreiFrei A French Prometheus Unbound Registered User regular
    everyone has you covered on the physical front, but if you'd do a little favor for me, several of my family members were Sioux and Lakota and their ancestors died out there (for the most part). nothing political or anything, just maybe spare a moment or a thought when you're looking out on everything and think about the history of the ground you're walking on. also, enjoy yourself. it's beautiful.

    (and I think someone mentioned it, but definitely do see Crazy Horse if you end up doing that sort of thing. it is "touristy" but it's a great monument. don't bother with Rushmore unless you really want to, it's very underwhelming in person, personal thoughts aside)

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  • ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
    Frei wrote: »
    everyone has you covered on the physical front, but if you'd do a little favor for me, several of my family members were Sioux and Lakota and their ancestors died out there (for the most part). nothing political or anything, just maybe spare a moment or a thought when you're looking out on everything and think about the history of the ground you're walking on. also, enjoy yourself. it's beautiful.

    (and I think someone mentioned it, but definitely do see Crazy Horse if you end up doing that sort of thing. it is "touristy" but it's a great monument. don't bother with Rushmore unless you really want to, it's very underwhelming in person, personal thoughts aside)

    Of course! And thank you for letting me know. The history of the area definitely makes it more real in a sense, rather than just a park.

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  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    Sunscreen (at least for ears and nose. Especially if you're wearing sunglasses) and a small tube of aloe vera for soothing/treating eventual sunburns&bug bites.

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    I don’t know if it’s still like this but when I drove through the badlands with my dad we had to top off at a specific gas station because it was ~150 miles between gas stations. My dad knew which gas station to hit, but it may be worth it to plan that into the trip.

  • ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
    And I’m back - thanks everyone for your awesome advice! It made things much easier. We didn’t have any issues with bugs or snakes because it was in the 40s during the day and below freezing at night with nonstop rain. But I actually really enjoyed that, it made it so much more challenging and fun. Hoping to go back this year!

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  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    DID YOU TAKE ANY PICTURES?




    please

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  • ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
    edited May 2019
    Yes! @davidsdurions

    Sorry I could only upload a few from my phone for now.
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    ShinyRedKnight on
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  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    Yep, that’s what the Badlands look like all right

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This discussion has been closed.