|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