National Park Service at 100: Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands

South Dakota’s Badlands National Park has so many beautiful views

For a place called the Badlands, visitors can find this national park a beautiful place to visit. As you look at the jagged edges and rock formations, you’d swear you’re on another planet instead of southwestern South Dakota.

The Badlands National Park offers visitors a variety of options in visiting the area. You can drive, hike trails, or even camp. Most people drive the loop road just off of exit 110 on Interstate 90, near the town of Wall. The length of your visit is up to you. If you just drive through and don’t stop at any of the overlooks or trails, it should take about an hour. For us? About four hours. We stopped at most of the overlooks and short walking trails.

Badlands

We walked to the edge of this formation

It’s nearly impossible to avoid the scenery. As soon as you enter the park from the west, you are welcomed by some of the beautiful landscape in the world. The formations jump out at you at the first overlook. The white and tan colors of the rocks stand out among the patches of green in the valley and the blue sky.

The Badlands were formed through wind and water. What we see today took about 45 million years to create. The area was once underwater as part of prehistoric oceans and seas. So, as time passed and the world evolved, deposits of minerals, creatures and other items created layers of deposits. As water gave way to land, the deposits shined through in almost perfect layers of colors. Then, wind helped form some of the rock patterns through erosion.

Badlands

We love the near-perfect layers of deposits

Today, most people just admire the beauty of the land. Who really thinks of how the scenery was created? We just want to take in all the beauty, right?

Lisa and I are no different. We’ve been to the Badlands before, but it’s been a long time. The area has changed. The park now has boardwalk trails for people’s safety, as well as information signs. You read about animals that once lived there, such as alligators and sabre tooth tigers. Imagine finding a fossil millions of years old as you walk among the rocks. Unfortunately, visitors aren’t allowed to take fossils or rocks from the park.

Badlands

The views are magnificent

Today, visitors can see animals such as Bighorn sheep, Bison and prairie dogs. We were welcomed to the Badlands National Park by a few Bighorn sheep. We love seeing animals in the wild, yet close up. So, we were pretty excited to see them.

Badlands

Bighorn sheep

I love the different views of each of the formations. Nature offers us so much beauty in the world. The Badlands are a small piece, but as you stand there taking in the view or walking among the rocks, you appreciate their enormity in our neck of the woods.

Badlands

This ground squirrel was a character to watch and difficult to photograph

The Badlands can make anything seem small, especially a bird that landed nearby during one of our stops.

Badlands

I wonder if this bird ever looks at a fossil and goes “My ancestors once roamed this planet.”

While I enjoyed the views of the Badlands, Lisa found a shiny object (or two), when she focused on flowers and bees. As I photographed some beautiful scenery, she decided yellow flowers and bees were more fun. Actually, she loved it when the bees were near the flowers.

Badlands

Lisa’s favorite view – shiny objects. Bees and flowers.

We enjoyed our visit to the Badlands tremendously. They should be included on any visit to western South Dakota. The national park is about 75 miles east of Rapid City.

Badlands

The Badlands should be on everyone’s bucket list

For more information on the Badlands National Park, please visit:

http://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm

www.visitrapidcity.com

www.travelsouthdakota.com