If you’ve never been to South Dakota’s badlands you might think it’s nothing more than miles of arid dusty wasteland. The name itself “badlands” doesn’t exactly invite one to visit. But, if you’re a romantic like I tend to be, this area might be one of the most interesting places you’ll ever see.
In the midst of South Dakota’s seemingly endless prairie sprouts a moonscape of bluffs, pinnacles, and rounded mounds. They look a little something like this:
And in the midst of this otherworldly panorama are oases of grassland where bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and more make their home. Notice in the photo below that the wild grass is so tall that a standing bison can almost hide in it!
This area is known as Badlands National Park and is not only home to living creatures, but is the final resting place of many prehistoric mammals as well. The fossils of oreodonts (a sort of sheep/pig mix), nimravidae (similar to a saber-tooth tiger), and other oddities like camels, llamas, and rhinos have all been found in the 240,000+ acre park. Personally, I would love to take a few days and wander through the park hunting for fossils and photo ops. Doesn’t it look tempting?
And who wouldn’t love to end their day with the rosy hues of sunset bouncing through the ravines?
Seriously, if you ever find yourself in southwestern South Dakota, make it a point to tour Badlands National Park. It’s well worth the time and you never know what you might find.