Sunday, November 5, 2017

American Landscapes: Badlands

It's tempting to put badlands in quotes, because "bad" isn't the adjective that comes to mind: "strange", "tortuous", or even "severe" seem better. But apparently early europeans called them bad because they were difficult to traverse, and the name stuck.

"Extensive" is another adjective. The badlands cover more than two hundred square miles in North Dakota and South Dakota, in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Badlands National Park respectively. A casual tourist can see wonderful sites but to see it all would take a long, long time. We were happy we could at least visit both parks.

The northern badlands were cloaked in haze from large fires to the west, but the vistas were beautiful nevertheless. A memorable hike led to a vantage point overlooking a group of grazing bison. My preconceived notion of the badlands as barren was wrong. They have colors, textures and life.

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Bison, Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Jones Creek, Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Yellow Mound Formation, Badlands National Park

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