South Dakota Prairies and The Badlands

The prairie land of South Dakota seems endless. Massive fields of green grass and rolling hills go on for miles and miles leading into the Badlands National Park. Driving through this area on my way to the Badlands made me think of what it must have been like 150 years ago. Massive expanses of knee deep grass cover the landscape along Highway 44 leading East into Scenic, South Dakota. After a brief stop in the small town of Scenic, I took Sage Creek Road North into the vastness of the prairie. This is a partially managed dirt road that leads into the North West corner of the Badlands. The views along this road are amazing with the sporadic farm house and barn along the way. Living so far out in the middle of nowhere was something that was hard for me to fathom – some serious solitude. The Badlands is roughly 242,000 acres of eroded buttes, mountains and prairie land. The landscape is a surreal creation, a combination of volcanic ashes and sediments. The ashes were carried on the winds from the west and deposited there over 30 million years ago. Water from the flood plains carried other sediment into the area leaving colorful deposits. Years of heavy rains and erosion have carved the landscape into an other worldly environment. The land is striped with color, showing the various periods of its evolution. While visiting, be sure to go out on foot and explore the landscape. It is an amazing experience to view all of the natural habitat. The spring and fall are the best times to visit. Summers out here can be brutal with temps in the 100’s. If you are planning a trip out west I highly recommend visiting this park for a day or two. Here are a few shots from the trip.

Prairies of South Dakota near Badlands National Park. © Rob Loughrey
Prairies of South Dakota near Badlands National Park. © Rob Loughrey
Highway 240, Badlands National Park, SD © Rob Loughrey
Highway 240, Badlands National Park, SD © Rob Loughrey
Pinnacles overlook, Badlands National Park, SD © Rob Loughrey
Pinnacles overlook, Badlands National Park, SD © Rob Loughrey
Twilight over the Badlands National Park, SD © Rob Loughrey
Twilight over the Badlands National Park, SD © Rob Loughrey