Camping on the Wall

“The Wall” is what campers call a dirt/gravel stretch of road near Badlands National Park in South Dakota, officially in Buffalo Gap National Grassland. The road runs along the rim of a stretch of steep canyon, with grasslands up to the rim and then far below.

I don’t know what my problem was, but I never got a good picture to show you what it was like parked at the edge of this rim. These pics show our trailer at the left, with the canyon beginning on the right. We backed right up to the edge of an outcropping and put every kind of chock under the tires as we held our breath and unhitched.

The views even from inside the trailer were so vast, so dramatic.

(Ignore the mess inside.)

You know how Banjo likes to walk as far as her tie-out line will allow and then plop down and roll in the dirt? Tracy wrapped the line around the Airstream tires so that she wouldn’t roll off the rim, and man did she test that.

I tried to get a pic of her lying there with that line taut, but she got up when I snapped it.

That photo at the very top is her getting up after trying to roll off the rim. I took better pictures of this place, but I figure it’s high time Banjo gets featured. She is so glad to be back in sunshine and on grass.

This view is from the prairie on the top of the rim. You can see the silhouettes of rigs all in a row from the highway.

The Badlands

We stayed on the wall for only one full day and didn’t do any real hiking because we need to get down the road. On that one full day though, we walked around Wall Drug and ate a deep-fried lunch, we drove a scenic loop through the park, and we met an Airstreaming couple from Austin, Texas, whom I hope we run into again.

So, the Grand Canyon is rock, and the Badlands is soil, which means erosion has carved the land differently here.

The grasslands would just drop off, leaving buttes sticking out of basins.

I love the juxtaposition of the perfectly flat layer of prairie soil and the dramatic canyons all around.

The soil is very dry and cracked, like desert soil.

We’d heard that when it rains the soil gets very slick on the surface, but also cakes together on your tires. We spent part of the second evening looking at our weather apps with the other Airstreaming couple, trying to decide to pull away from the wall before a thunderstorm approached.

We both stayed for the night and the storm missed us. I am so glad for that, for not only did we drive smoothly away from the wall, but I didn’t have to lie awake during the storm feeling the trailer rock in the wind on the edge of the canyon. Plus, we got morning views of the prairie, which I still can’t get enough of.

I would have liked walking through the grassland more here, but there were cacti hidden in the grasses as well as rattlesnakes, so maybe that drive was enough!

Okay, I now have officially been to Wall Drug, and I have a t-shirt that proves it. I still have an ashtray from South of the Border that doubles as a salt bowl for margaritas and my flip flops made from fake grass from the Iowa 80 Truck Stop. I think this is a road trip trifecta!

4 thoughts to “Camping on the Wall”

    1. I can see that! I’ve come to think that “favorite place” often involves both concepts of home and special. Kind of an oxymoron, but sometimes it pans out well. (I think this applies to why I have an Eastern forest tattooed all over me.)