My first trip out west – 2002 – The Badlands

Before hitting Mount Rushmore (I swear officer; it just jumped out in front of me.  I never saw it!) we visited the Badlands National Park.  It was our first “tourist” stop of the trip.

A great place to play hide-and-seek

It’s not a big park, and the thought was to spend a few hours there, hit the motel we had reserved, and get a good night rest so we could be at Mount Rushmore bright and early.

Well, relatively early . . . one has to have a decent breakfast.  We arrived at the park at 5:30pm, having driven West along I-90 for most of the day.  The last photograph was time-stamped 8:45pm, and we could have easily spent longer exploring the striking landscape.

Those are heads of cattle grazing in the distance

I pity the settler driving his wagon West and hitting this expanse of unfriendly terrain.  Of course, these canyons, soft-stone labyrinths, hidden coves and glens would later make perfect hideouts for famous and not-so-famous outlaws . . . actually, I don’t remember who hid there.  For all I know they are still there. 

Makes you want to rustle some cattle, and hide out in them thar spiresMakes you want to rustle some cattle, and hide out in them thar spires

Yes, there be grazing here

 This next one is my favorite Badlands photograph . . . 

I like the light, the color of the sky and rock, the gold grass . . . I like it all.

 It was too late for us to do any of the longer hikes, but there were a few short hikes to various vantage points.

One of the overlooks on to the relatively eastern parts of the park

 The majority of the park is split between jagged rock formations and smooth, eroded hills like these.

Nice painted rocks

 At the time I was quite the avid golfer, and when I saw these next features I immediately saw the possibility for building what would be a difficult course indeed . . . 

Ready made greens amid giant stone traps . . .

Getting from green to green would give golfers a good workout; they might even have to put down their beers.

This next picture gives a sense of scale . . . that’s our Suburban sitting there atop the hill.

More fond memories of my Suburban

 We saw a number of deer in the park, but this shot is my favorite.  As near as I could tell, they were just running to run.

Looks like fun

We had already seen a number of Antelopes along I-90, but these were the first away from the things of man.  A male lording up a small herd of females.

Fairly modest, as harems go.

 By now the sun was dropping, and the colors were really getting lit up . . . 

The golden hills . . .

And, shortly after the sun dropped behind the hills, we spotted the first of many we would see on this trip . . . a lone buffalo grazing in the distance.

We had seen some in pens, but this was our first wild buffalo of the trip.

All in all, a great three hours.  We visited the Badlands again when we took our western trip in 2004, looking for a place to settle.  That visit was even shorter.  Basically a quick drive through.

One of these days we’ll go back and give it a proper visit.  Meanwhile I, like you, can click on any of the pictures to go look at the thirty (30) pictures that make up the SmugMug album.