Badlands N.P., S. D. 2012
At the end of June, 2012; I trekked the Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
The Badlands National Park is located 121 km east of Rapid City, South Dakota. The Badlands of South Dakota are a natural masterpiece of wind and water sculpture.
This extraordinarily eroded landscape contains a profusion of buttes, pinnacles, and spires carved out of an underlying plateau of soft sediments and volcanic ash.
Early settlers gave the Badlands its fitting name, for it would be almost impossible to grow crops in these battered hills.
Fortunately the Badlands’ scientific and pictorial merits have long been recognized, and the area is now part of the Badlands National Park, which also protects America’s largest area of mixed grass prairie.
The Badlands’ sediments were deposited in layers beginning 75 million years ago when shifting continents raised the Black hills to the west. Sand, silt, and clay measuring thousands of feet deep were then deposited on the plains, along with several layers of volcanic ash, until five million years ago, when the White River began eroding to gradually reveal the stark landscape we see today.
The Badlands are also a showcase for the best deposits of fossilized mammals in the world, dating 35 million years. The skeletons of ancient camels, three-toed horses, saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures are among the many fossilized species found here
Badlands National Park’s striking geologic deposits and mixed-grass prairie lands are spread across 244,000 acres of western South Dakota.
Wildlife roams the Badlands’ National Park boundaries as well. Bison, pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, butterflies, turtles, snakes, bluebirds, vultures, eagles and hawks are just some of the wildlife that can often be seen here.
The Lakota people were the first to call this place “mako sica” or “land bad.” Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name. French-Canadian fur trappers called it “les mauvaises terres pour traverser,” or “bad lands to travel through.” By one hundred and fifty years ago, the Great Sioux Nation consisting of seven bands including the Oglala Lakota, had displaced the other tribes from the northern prairie.