I grew up in the Canadian prairies, not so far from the Alberta badlands.
OK – so we lived in the city, but we did have old wagon wheels in the back yard and a wild and overgrown gully behind our home. It was cowboy and Indian country: I have dim memories of watching reruns of The Roy Rogers Show on the flickering black and white television with my neighbour in the basement of his house before we’d go out and play at being Roy Rogers or Dale Evans ourselves, galloping across the lane and through that gully where a freeway now runs.
I also have dim memories of visiting “The Hoodoos” in the badlands near Drumheller, Alberta.
So, I was really excited at the chance to visit what the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service calls the “definitive Badlands”.
“For centuries humans have viewed South Dakota’s celebrated Badlands with a mixture of dread and fascination,” says the official Badlands National Park brochure. The combination of hot dry climate, soft sedimentary rocks, clay-rich soils, and erosion from wind and rain produces a landscape of fantastic shapes and subtle colours.
Just outside the National Park, but still in the dry prairie landscape, there is a little general store which provides a home to native prairie dogs.
It’s a magical, mystical place and I would have loved to have stayed longer and explored further.
But, it wasn’t quite like my childhood memories of the badlands, and I didn’t see Roy or Dale…
Maybe next time!