~ Badlands National Park ~

These photos were taken during my second visit to Badlands National Park. Sometimes you just have to go back to a place. The Badlands is one of those places. My first visit in 2002 only took me to the fringes of the park, because of time constraints.

French trappers referred to them as
"les mauvaises terres a traverser" -- bad lands to travel across. Badlands National Park is 244,000 acres of the strangest and most spectacular landscapes on North America.

This sunrise greeted me on the way to the Badlands

At one time the entire area of the Badlands was high plains like these uneroded areas. Over millions of years the effects of wind and water have made the Badlands into what they are today, a place of sheer beauty.

Into something like this

There is much wildlife in the Badlands and most have been equiped with radio collars. This guy even posed. But the real attraction is the landscapes.

A thousand years ago Native hunters camped by a cliff near here. They would stampede bison herds to the upper plains and over the cliff for food. The bison was more than food to the Indians; it was also used for shelter, clothing and the making of adornments, tools and weapons.

These peaks were once entirely buried beneath the prairie of the High Plains.

The different colors are from diferent layers of sediments that settled in the huge sea that was here 65 millions years before the plains and erosion began.

Panoramas show the vastness of Badlands National Park

From Yellow Mounds Overlook



From Contata Basin Overlook

Like a rainbow

The layers of sediment are consistent throughout the park

From Homestead Overlook

Homesteaders poured into the Badlands when the Milwaukee Railroad completed track through the White River Valley in 1907.
"Visualize if you can," one observer wrote, "a tar paper shack, tent, or dugout on every quarter section of land... and you will have a mind's eye picture of what the community looked like...."
Unfortunately most of the homesteads turned out to be "Starvation Claims" and were abandoned or sold.
Today the ranches in the valley measure in thousands of acres and use heavy equipment to do the work that was once done by hand and horse. Even so, unpredictable drought and economic crisis test ranchers as severely as the original homesteaders were tested.

From Burns Basin Overlook

It is simply an amazing place to visit

From Prairie Wind Overlook

Here we are between wilderness and civilization. In the distance is Interstate 90 and a neighboring ranch. Behind across the Park Loop Road, the Badlands Wilderness Area stretches out over 64,000 acres. This wilderness was designated by Congress in 1976.
This prairie was once part of a vast ocean of grass covering more than half the North American continent. Today, less than two percent of the native prairie remains.

Fire routinely sweeps across the prairie. Though a terrifying spectacle, fire can help rejuvenate the prairie. Native grasses survive prairie fires, while non-native, invasive species do not.
Early settlers feared wildfires and sought to suppress them. Today park staff plan orairie burnings to help eliminate non-native grasses and stimulate the growth of native species.
In a few days after a prairie fire, green shoots of native grass spring from the rich soil. After which wilflife quickly returns to feed on the tender plants.

More Big Horn Sheep

From White River Valley Overlook

From Big Badlands Overlook

Then I was off to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Music is "True Colors"

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