The animals had taken over the park. It was one of the most surreal experiences I had had on my voyage. It had been two weeks since the United States had shut down because of Coronavirus and most people were locking themselves inside of their houses. I had been to the park before, so exploration wasn’t the priority on my mind. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to drive through a national park though. So after charging up at Wall (one of my favorite charger locations because of the infamous Wall Drug) I drove 8 miles out of my way to head east through The Badlands.
Immediately upon arrival I noticed the difference in atmosphere. A bison walked along the center of the road, seemingly unconcerned about life. There wasn’t a soul to bother him so why should he be concerned. Along the sides of the road, prairie dogs popped their heads out of their holes, like a live version of a whack-a-mole game, only in this one there wasn’t anyone there to do the whacking. I sat and watched this show for an hour or so as the sharp barks of the dogs filled my ears. It was time to move on though. I didn’t have all day… or did I? The world was shut down so it seemed as if all my priorities had suddenly vanished. “Works for me.” I thought to myself as I continued my drive.
As I drove deeper into the park, I noticed that the Bighorns were much more plentiful than the last time I was there. Previously, they had stayed away from the roads, electing to social distance themselves as humans were now supposed to be doing. Now, they walked wherever they wanted, standing on the sides of curves munching away at grasses, happy that there weren’t any people to bother them. When I arrived at the visitor center, they had taken over the entire parking lot, walking right up to my car, surprised that it didn’t make any noise. I always enjoy that fact when I am around wildlife. They always seem intrigued by this massive machine that is silent. I climbed out my window and onto my roof to give them a little distance and not disturb them. Click, click, click. My camera clanked away making more noise than my car.
As I drove away and watched the herds get smaller in my rear view mirror, I had a longing feeling to keep the parks like this. It was so different from when people were here. The animals and the land seemed at peace. Humans seemed to be the pollutant in this situation, always carving out what they felt was needed and not giving the rest of nature a chance to have a say. I wondered if the animals were happy. I hoped they were. With that, I set off to finish my journey to my covid lockdown.
Closest Supercharger Wall SD 8 mi
199-101 W 6th Ave, Wall, SD 57790
Badlands National Park
25216 SD-240, Interior, SD 57750