Sunday, January 29, 2012

THE Trip, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, Part 1

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence


July 7, 2011.  After our short but oh so interesting visit to Wall Drugs, we headed south into the Badlands National Park.  I don't know about you, but even the name sounds a bit ominous to me.  We found it to be fascinating, extreme, and, we could see where the name came from. What a wild bad place this is.  Just how bad it can be is easy to understand if you read the following paragraph that is on the home page of the park's web presence.

Climate
The Badlands climate is variable and unpredictable with temperatures ranging from -40 F to 116 F. The summers are hot and dry with occasional violent thunderstorms. Winters are typically cold with 12 to 24 inches of total snowfall. Extremely high winds are common year-round. Sudden and dramatic weather changes are common. Dress in layers. Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and adequate water are recommended for hiking.

Read that paragraph carefully, the descriptive terms are clear as to the type of place this is, variable, unpredictable, hot, violent, cold, extremely high winds, sudden, dramatic.

Once in the park we took the Badlands Loop Road southeasterly.  We stopped at most if not all the overlooks.  I did a poor job of recording where we were stopping on our visit.  We drove until the road dead ended at 377/44 which we took back west.  44 takes you through large expanses of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.  We would eventually end up in Rapid City.

We had people tell us "there is nothing out there", and gave us the impression that it was rather a forsaken hunk of our country.  They were right, there is not much out there.  But, we were awestruck at the "forsaken" lands.  Does not take much imagination to see how overwhelming and possibly unforgiving Mother Nature could be around here.  It is a beautiful place, but could be dangerous, and BAD.










Below:   this is the area known as the yellow mounds:



Below, somewhere in the top one-third of this photo you can see a ribbon of the road:



I will have one more post of photos of the Badlands National Park, coming soon.



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9 comments:

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Brings to mind all the cowboy movies where they ride through the Badlands. Just think about traveling through that place on horseback with a canteen of water, some old beef jerkey, a bedroll and a limited number of bullets....

Lynne Carothers said...

We were at the Badlands before sunrise on a day expected to be in the 110's. We got there just at the end of a thunderstorm and watched the sunrise over the canyons. We were awestruck. We hiked, found a rattlesnake, an eagle and our first prairie dogs. It was an amazing day. I feel that the Badlands connect to people who are open to just what the description states - unpredictable, sometimes violent, extreme ... and gorgeous!

Carol said...

That is what I was contemplating Lisa. What would it have been like to be down there walking or on horseback say 100 years ago.

Carol said...

Well, my eyeballs don't do before sunrise, so you have my kudos there Lynne. Get the awestruck, don't like the rattlesnake, would have loved the eagle, and I saw lots of prairie dogs elsewhere, but, they are always a treat. And, so agree, we must open ourselves to the experience, you said that a lot better than I have been able to. I worked on this for several hours and still the correct descriptions escape. You came much closer. Thanks.

Barbara Poole said...

I couldn't wait to get out of that area. We camped one night in May, warm, not terribly hot, so we were lucky. At least you got some green in your photos, and saw the place first hand.

Carol said...

Apparently the green is not a given, according to MOC friend Jan. I would bet that just a few weeks later it would not have been green.

Lynne Carothers said...

Your descriptions are fantastic and very much appreciated!

Susan Clark said...

One more for my bucket list. This kind of place fascinate me. I've adored our visits to Death Valley (though been so very grateful for the ability to merely pass through). This seems a similarly extreme environment.

Michelle Goodrum said...

After reading your description, I want to go there!

Although I doubt the 116 degree head in the Badlands is not the "dry heat" we get here in Arizona.