INTERIOR, S.D. - Cedar Pass Lodge offers the only accommodations with a roof inside Badlands National Park, and that's the way it's been since 1928. Why should anything change now?
Built in the early age of motor tourism, 11 years before the federal government first protected the Badlands, Cedar Pass Lodge has two rows of tiny stucco-sided cabins clustered around an oval driveway.
For $85 to $100 a night, you can stay in one of these cabins. Here's what you don't get: a TV with five zillion channels. In fact, you don't get a TV at all. Or a phone. Or a mini-bar. Or a mint on a pillow. The windows might open. They might not. In the smallest cabins, there's barely room to store your luggage. The air conditioner might struggle against the heat, but there's plenty of hot water in the shower.
Here's what you do get: spectacular views of the geologic wonderland. The shade of weathered cedars. Visits from curious bunnies and flocks of magpies. Magnificent sunsets that paint the crags a brilliant pink.
Buy a bottle of wine from the lodge's gift shop at the end of the driveway, and take a seat on the bench in front of the cabin. You may have to borrow a bench from the cabin next door, since there aren't enough to go around, but that gives you an excuse to talk to your fellow guests. Make a toast to this magnificent place that time seems to have passed by.
The company that operates Cedar Pass Lodge, Forever Resorts, also operates the restaurant (home to fry-bread and buffalo tacos), as well as a bland motel, the Badlands Inn, just outside the park boundary. In 2011, Cedar Pass Lodge opened April 15 and will close Oct. 15.
For reservations or more info, call 1-877-386-4383 or visit cedarpasslodge.com.
JAMES ELI SHIFFER