Magnificent Terrains of the Badlands, South Dakota

The Badlands in South Dakota was the first target to hit, when me and my colleague started off our journey by car from the beautiful town of Wamego, Kansas to cover some major attractions of the states of South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado in just one complete trip in early Spring 2013.

Drive way from Wamego, Kansas to the Badlands in Interior, South Dakota
Drive way from Wamego, Kansas to the Badlands in Interior, South Dakota

The other attractions planned in the same trip were

  1. Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota
  2. Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
  3. Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming
  4. Wind Cave National Park, Wyoming
  5. Big Horn National Forest, Wyoming
  6. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming / Montana
  7. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming and
  8. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Ohhhh yes..!! You just read it right! We planned to cover all these attractions in just one trip, well within four days of quick time.

We started the journey around 3 pm and we planned to travel through the state of Nebraska to reach the Badlands National Park. That’s a journey of 560 miles which took almost 11 hours and we reached the destination around 2 am. We drove non-stop from Wamego until we stopped in a small city, Valentine in Nebraska for dinner and then we did drive continuously to reach the Badlands in South Dakota.

Also read: My blog post on – Stay Amazed and Overwhelmed with Nature’s Elegance of Yellowstone

A glorious sunset in Nebraska

I saw one of the beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, on that traveling day when we were cruising through the state of Nebraska. That sunset was stunning to be precise and it was accompanied by a goods train running parallel to our drive way for almost 15 mins.

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A sensational spring sunset accompanied by a goods train in Nebraska, United States

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

You’re probably hearing the name ‘Badlands’ the very first time. Badlands are typically the kind of landscape with lots of cliffs comprising the blended mix of weaker sedimentary rocks and much of the dry and hardened clay. This landscape are prone to frequent erosion by both water and wind. This typical and unique terrain of Badlands are hugely affected in the season of spring. It gets eroded on a large extent because of the melting of snow and the frequent spring showers.

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At the beautiful open entrance of Badlands National Park in the prairie grasslands region
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The super clean highway SD-377 N which runs through the Badlands National Park, South Dakota

I was just lying down there in the highway SD-377 N for 10 minutes taking photographs, wondering and getting deeply in to the thoughts of “how these terrains of badlands would have formed at the very first time!?”. The highway was all calm and quiet. Being on the middle of the highway in the above spot in the picture, the ambience was sensational on all 360 degrees covering the phenomenal views of the Badlands National Park.

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Rugged and eroded terrains of the vast white Badlands seen in South Dakota
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Weathers of all seasons cause the rapid erosion of the Badlands

All the eroded clay hill terrains, the mixed prairie grasslands and plain dry mud lands are all put together and formed as Badlands National Park nearby the city Interior in Jackson County in the state of South Dakota in United States. Badlands National Park covers a wide area of more than 240,000 acres of land. This is one of the National Parks maintained by the National Park Service.

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Different layers of the clay deposits are visibly seen in the terrain
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The vast overlook of the eroded and deserted lands of the Badlands National Park
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The uneven and rugged clay terrains of the unique Badlands

Guess what?!

Such typical badlands can also be seen in other states of Utah and Wyoming in United States. Same can also be seen in other countries like Canada, Spain, Italy and Argentina. Badlands seen here in South Dakota are typically white in nature. But the badlands seen in other states and countries may differ in color. The color difference happens because of the various types of the mineral deposits in the badlands. Badlands National Park have been recorded with lots of Mammal fossils in the near past.

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Yellow deposits seen in some specific areas in the different nature of Badlands
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Different layers of eroded dry clay hills spread across the Badlands National Park

We went for a walk through the limits of the terrains of the Badlands, where the erosion of clay terrain starts. And it was all shocking and surprising to see such prairie grasslands are the lands that are being converted to the white terrains of the Badlands because of the frequent erosion by natural phenomena like Snow, Wind and Showers. Surprisingly these badlands are not only caused by erosion but also by one other nature phenomena called accumulation of clay soil caused again by wind and showers.

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Eroded prairie lands turning to rugged clay terrains
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Snow, Showers and Wind causes the frequent erosion of the Badlands terrain

These badland terrains can again turn out to be the plain and dry mud lands and there are huge possibilities that these terrain can again form as prairie grasslands. And this can go as a cycle for millions of years. Badlands to Mud lands and then to Prairie grasslands and then again Prairie grasslands to Mud lands and then to Badlands terrain.

We can definitely stay surprised and amazed looking at the cycle of changes caused by the nature which keeps happening in the Badlands National Park. The landscape of the badlands doesn’t support the vegetation much in the clay rich soils.

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Signs of the clay hill badlands dissipating to the plain lands of dry mud and grass
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The fence from which the vast scenic terrains of the Badlands can be seen

Wildlife/Prairie grasslands in Badlands National Park

Primarily seen wildlife in terrains of badlands and in the prairie grasslands are Pronghorns (Antelopes), Bisons, Prairie dogs, Bighorn Sheep, Bob Cats, Rattle Snakes and lots of bird species.

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A Pronghorn, seen lonely in the prairie region of Badlands
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After this caution, we were watching every step that we took in the national park  🙂

Though we were bit scared on Rattle Snakes, we were very much disappointed that we couldn’t see any. That’s because we haven’t seen any Rattle Snake upfront by naked eye. So we were actually expecting to encounter one, since then in the park 😉

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The vast prairie grasslands that looked fresh and beautiful in the Badlands National Park
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That’s a quiet highway SD-377 N on a spring morning through the Badlands

Badlands National Park is a must see attraction in South Dakota and we must agree that it has tons of amazing views for an outstanding photography in terms of unique white terrains of dry clay, deserted mud lands and the vast view of the prairie grasslands. Plan your visit to Badlands at least once when you’re in South Dakota or nearby South Dakota and you’ll for sure be stunned on your Badlands day 🙂 🙂

Also read: My blog post on – Magical Landscapes of the Mammoth Hot Springs

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6 thoughts on “Magnificent Terrains of the Badlands, South Dakota

        1. OMG! That was the comment I was giving to all of the travelers I read about. I’m not that frequent in traveling. Right now I’m working in Chennai, India. All these travels happened in 2012-13 when I was deputed at Caterpillar Inc in Wamego, Kansas. So, I’m waiting for the next project in USA. No idea when that will happen. Anyways, thanks for your time on my blog. I’m humbled with your very kind words.

          Liked by 1 person

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