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.
ClimateThe 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.