Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Badlands, Minuteman Missile and Back to Custer


We kept busy at Badlands, doing all the short hikes and the scenic drive. The best hike was the Notch trail, less than a mile to a ledge called The Notch. The trail itself wasn’t all that hard, but the challenge came when we got to this long ladder. Going up wasn’t bad, but my fear of heights kicked in going back down.Since there were people coming down after me, I had no choice but to keep moving.

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It was beautiful there, and interesting how the rocks changed color depending on the sun.

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A different area of the park called the Yellow Mounds. The colors would have been better with more sun, but we were getting ready to have a major thunderstorm. It rained hard, with lots of thunder and lightening and threats of hail and high winds all 3 days we were there, but the really bad stuff stayed north of us. We have to get out of this area!


Yesterday we drove up to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, about 20 miles north just off I-90. They give formal tours 4 days a week, but I called an hour too late to get tickets, so we had to show up at 8am yesterday to get tickets for a short tour of the Launch Control Facility Delta-01. We got tickets for the 9:30 tour, where they take 6 people at a time 30’ down in a very small elevator to the launch control center. Pretty scary stuff, that Cold War.

This is actually the door to the control room.P1010889P1010890 

The floor is suspended so if we had taken a hit, the two guys working there could have survived. They worked 24 hour shifts, remotely commanding their 10 missiles.  Probably a pretty boring job most of the time.

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Then we drove 15 miles west on I-90 to Launch Facility Delta 0-9, or the missile silo. These were 1.2 megaton warheads. Good thing we never had to launch them.


Since we were only 5 miles from Wall, SD, we had to stop at the famous Wall Drugs. It takes up a whole city block, and has become a major tourist attraction, but we couldn’t figure out why.

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Jim did like this custom trike sitting outside, though.


Jim got a call from the dentist office yesterday wanting to know if he could come in this morning at 9:10. So we dumped, hooked up the car, and had just about everything ready to go last night so we could hit the road at 6:40 this morning. Not an easy task for Jim, but he did good. We had just enough time to pull into Oreville Campground, a USFS campground 7 miles north of Custer. We found an easy pull-off site, disconnected the car, and he took off for the dentist with about 10 minutes to spare. This is a nice, wooded campground in the Black Hills National Forest, but it is too close to the highway, so traffic noise is pretty loud. There are no hookups, just vault toilets, and it is $19 a night. Too much for what you get, but we knew it would be close to $30 at a private park, and we were ready to get out of RV “resorts”. Also the Mickelson bike trail is right across the road. Jim should be home soon with his repaired tooth. He wants to spend at least a night here to make sure the crown doesn’t fall off!



  1. Your pictures of the Badlands make me want to go visit!! What's up with all those stairs on the Notch Trail?? Why did they do that? It reminds me of an obstacle course race I did last spring in Texas. Looks like fun...and glad you got to challenge your fear!

  2. Hope Jim was able to get his tooth fixed up. Good idea to stay and make sure the crown stays put.

    The Badlands are very pretty with the different colors the sun creates...nice! You HAVE to experience Wall Drugs!!

    Take care!
    Mike & Gerri (happytrails)