Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

"The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom."
~Theodore Roosevelt

Badlands National Park is located in the White River Badlands in the southwestern region of South Dakota and was called mako sica by the Sioux Indians. The term badlands generally refers to an area that is difficult to travel through primarily because of the rugged terrain and lack of water. Badlands National Park consists of nearly 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. Sixty-four thousand acres are designated official wilderness.

When we first entered the park we could hardly believe what we were seeing! The land abruptly changed from flat and rolling hills of grassland into a vision of harsh dry moon-like terrain.

The colors and shadows of the badlands formations kept changing throughout the day to make each area appear unique.

Badlands National Park contains the world's richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 23 to 35 million years old. Skeletons of ancient camels, horses, saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures are among the many fossilized species found here, and more are being discovered by park officials as more erosion occurs.

The bizarre landforms are the masterpiece of water and wind erosion that took place over millions of years. On average, the badlands erodes one inch per year.

There are many overlook parking viewing areas in the park, and also hiking trails to take off the road. Approximately one million people visit the Badlands National Park each year from all over the world.

Such a vast wilderness .....

..... with visions of the most unusual landscape as far as the eye can see!

The unique badlands formations are interlaced with one of the largest mixed-grass prairie ecosystems in the United States. Badlands National Park is over 50% mixed grass prairie. Over 60 types of grass thrive here, as well as dozens of flowering plants. The best time to see many unique native prairie flowers is in spring and early summer, after the winter snow melt has taken place.

Just outside the Badlands National park there is a small natural exhibit of a few early homesteader's homes called Prairie Homestead. An example of a sod house is seen above. If you look at the website you can see what the interior looks like and read more about the early pioneers who lived here. Many hopeful farmers travelled to South Dakota from the East Coast or Europe to try to make a living in this hard place, but drought, blizzards and locust invasions forced many away. Throughout our travels we were so in awe of the early pioneer's fortitude and bravery as they traveled West in a quest to make a better life for themselves.

The Badlands is home to many species of birds, mammals, and reptiles, but the only creatures we saw during our visit were prairie dogs. These plump white prairie dogs were living on the grounds of the Prairie Homestead, where they have the only white prairie dog town in the world!

I am linking this post to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer blog's Outdoor Wednesday posts. Please visit Susan's blog and see links to many wonderful blog posts showing outdoor sights across the nation and the world! Thanks Susan!

There is a terrible dark secret lying in some of the beautiful prairies of the West and I'll show you one we visited on our vacation in my next blog post.


Judy said...

Great post...and now I know we will have to return to South Dakota one fine day. We opted to pass by the Badlands National Park...in our zeal for getting to Iowa. Did you stop in Mitchell...to see the Corn Palace? Neat place as well.

White prairie dogs? Missed those too.

Anonymous said...

WOW, Pat, those photos are beautiful..it feels like I'm there with you. I prefer to think of 'Badlands' in a more 'scary' way than tough terrain..LOL

I always wanted to take a trip across the country, or at least down route 66, and take photo after photo of all the cool places. Well, that dream will have to wait! Looks like you're having a blast, and I'm looking forward to your post about the 'dark secrets' embedded in some of the prairies!

Tara said...

Hello dear Pat-

I have been MIA all summer just soaking up the LI sun and needed to get back to blogging...I see such happy things happening here and your blog looks great! Have missed you adn hope all is well with your family (baby Leo!!)


Ciao Chow Linda said...

That is a striking looking landscape and stunning photos. Hope to visit there someday, piqued by your pictures.

Joyce said...

Amazing photos and how cute those dogs posed just for your shot:) I hope to visit this area one day. Thanks for shairing.

happyone said...

I have been there too a few years back and it was awesome to drive through there.
It's amazing how diverse our country is!
I don't think anyone can drive across the country and not think of how hard it must of been for the pioneers!!

GailO said...

Amazing photos!...amazing land!...That photo with the black-eyed susans against the stark background and beautiful sky....lovely!

Lora @ my blessed life said...

It is an amazing place of rough beauty, isn't it? I look forward to taking my kiddos there someday. Your pics are beautiful!

Light and Voices said...

Your photos of the Badlands National Park are excellent.
Joyce M

Fifi Flowers said...

Nature is GRAND! Amazing colour in the rocks! GORGEOUS photos!

Gracie said...

When I think about visiting the States one day, I dream baout NYC, the Grand Canyon and places like this! For me America is still the home of wilderness and pioneers!
Thanks for sharing, as always.
P.S. Can you take a look at what I wrote under my blog headline and tell me if I wrote it in the right english? Thanks.

Jennyff said...

Excellent photographs, you've realy captured the atmosphere. America does wide open spaces so well.

My name is Riet said...

Wow, those pictures are stunning. Such beautiful nature.
Have a nice day

aliceinparis said...

Wow. Your pictures of this extraordinary place are beautiful!

Unknown said...

What an interesting landscape.
Can you imagine what kind of life settlers must have lived in this dry area?
Did you find or see any fossils?
Great area to dig for dinosaur bones;)
On the other side of the US border you'll find the "Canadian Badlands in Southern Alberta". Drumheller Valley offers visitors a unique combination of spectacular scenery very similiar to your pictures.
Discover two-billion-year-old rocks plus the largest collection of dinosaur skeletons in the world.
Thank you for sharing.
I hope you'll enjoy your trip and your discoveries.

Tracy said...

Sensational photos, Pat! Those wide open skies are stunning... Hubby and I have wanted to see Badlands and head west--hope we get to sometimes. Until then, will be enjoying scenes from your trip. :o) LOVE the prairie dogs--they are sooo cute! Happy Day ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

Amazing photos! I really like the one of the wildflowers taken with the rocks in the background....such a beautiful contrast!

We drove through there when we were visiting Mt. Rushmore, and the thing I remember the most was the wild winds whipping around. I think the weather there can be quite unforgiving!!!

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!

Your photos are incredible! You really captured the beauty there so that those of us that haven't been to that part of the country can fell like we've visited along with you.

Your grandson is growing so fast! What a cutey he is. You cant ask for a better beginning & end to a trip than him!!

big hugs, Sherry

Sea Witch said...

Spectacular photos you have taken. It must have been difficult to leave this incredible location to move on. I could spend days there and your photos only underscore the need to visit. Love the sod home and how different the interior looks. It takes a women's touch to make a house a home. I bet it was cool in the summer and toasty in the winter. Can't wait to see what you have next for us. Sea Witch

Ashley @ AshleysBusy said...

Incredible scenery. It's like a foreign planet. I dream of going out west and seeing all the sites. Love the blue sky and puffy clouds of the grass prairie photo. :)

Marg said...

Beautiful Geography. I love the landscape...I can see why so many people venture out there. That shot of the sunflowers is exceptional.
Thanks for sharing another beautiful region.

Shellbelle said...

I see some has already used the term that came to my mind as I viewed your photos — spectacular!

One of the things I love most about Outdoor Wednesdays is posts such as these that take me to areas of our country that I have never visited. I have saved the link you provided in my "Places To Go" folder and downloaded one of your pics to use as a screensaver to remind me how beautiful this land of ours is! (Hope you don't mind.)

BTW, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment on my New York Says Thank You post, it was just the type of response I was hoping for. I posted another today that I think you will find equally interesting.

Flag With A Heart

AND, as a family genealogist, I appreciate the work you are doing to identify and mark the graves of Civil War soldiers.

Have you heard of the town of Fitzgerald in Georgia? It was created in 1895 as a community for Civil War vets from both sides. The story of its founding is so interesting.

My daddy was born there and my great-grandparents from his mothers side are both buried at Evergreen Cemetery. Just another example of how our country can come together even after a civil war separated us.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Pat, your photos are extraordinary. Bob and I visited the Badlands over 40 years ago and I can remember thing how aptly named they were. I also remember Wall's Drug Store. Is that still there? Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I hope you are having a wonderful day.

Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

I loved the Badlands, they were just so cool! (My sister was in a snarky mood when we arrived, tired from driving and camping all the way from Florida - when she saw the layered land, she said, "It looks like the ground threw up!") Yuck. But we really enjoyed camping there. And the prairie dogs were so cute!

Anonymous said...

What a cliff-hanger--a dark secret. I must remember to check back! Thanks for the majestic tour. I sooo love the West. We had one of those homesteader 'dugouts' on the farm next to us. Amazing, the pioneers' fortitude! Good thing for me to remember. :)

Marina Capano said...



Rattus Scribus said...

What a great post and pictures. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. Yes, right now Anita and I are grateful to be teachers. Like nurses, many teachers are being imported to the US from places like the Philippines not just to fill needed positions, but with highly qualified teachers.
God bless,
Ruben (a.k.a, Rattus Scribus)

Blondie's Journal said...

This is an incredibly interesting post, Pat. I knew nothing of the Badlands and I am in astonishment at the beauty of this part of our country. Amazing photos.

Happy Outdoor Wednesday!!


Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Pat, what a wonderful trip! These trips are absolutely beautiful. I love the picture of you and Leo on your sidebar. He is such a cutie. These pictures of the Badlands are fabulous. It must have been so awesome.

annies home said...

great pictures love the way you truly share the sights that you saw

RoeH said...

I've been through the Badlands several times. I always wanted to take the time to ride a horseback in there. Until I heard it was easy to get lost. Granted...you can give a horse his head and he will usually find his way back home. But I just don't like the word 'lost'. Beautiful land though, wasn't it.

Daziano said...

One just word... WOW!!!!!!

Gina said...

This is such a fascinating area..loved the tour Pat..it's so different to the wilderness I know here..esp as there is barely a tree in site...but I can certainly see the beauty in the landscapes and the colours are incredible! Gx

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous yet harsh wilderness. There is nothing like it in England. I am in awe.

In Wales some of the long houses were bermed and built into the hillsides to warmth and wind protection.

Susie Q said...

I am absolutely loving your vacation photos and words. I was in that region long ago and these have brought back sweet memories.
I would so love to returnnow, withmy own family, and see it again. What a place to photograph!
I am off to see and read more!
Oh! You rgrandson just gets cuter and cuter...is that possible?? *smile*