The Badlands

South Dakota is brutally hot and humid in July. We found a campground near Badlands National Park that had electrical hookups and ran the air conditioner for most of the day.

But eventually, when the sun starts to set, “the badlands become the goodlands,” as John Steinbeck said. It’s a little less hot and humid and the light is amazing.

The yellow layer is an old ocean layer that was uplifted; when it was exposed to air it turned yellow. The tannish and redish layers are sandstone. Grey is an old river bed. Photo credit: Ryan

The geologic formations here are very similar to the badlands in Arizona’s petrified forest. All the same beautiful colors and the formation of the hills are the same – lots of sediment deposits for millions of years and then erosion. What sets South Dakota’s badlands apart are the vast swaths of undisturbed prairie grass fields that break up the landscape.

It’s the largest undisturbed prairie in the U.S. They are working to reintroduce the black-footed ferret, the most endangered mammal in North America. Photo credit: Ryan

There are buffalo herds and prairie dog metropolises and fantastic sunsets. We would like to spend more time here…during a different time of year. The heat and humidity put us both into bad moods. This is not good for a relationship, especially when you’re sharing a modest 150 square feet of living space.

Sunset after a storm. This picture is actually from the Wind Cave area. Photo credit: Ryan


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