Badlands, South Dakota, USA

Two people are dwarfed by the rock formations of the SD badlands.

The Badlands of South Dakota.

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.

Curving road into dry badland mountains.

Badlands Loop Road

Dry yellow grasslands against a blue sky.

Grasses on the Badlands

Badland rock formations behind dry grass.

Rock formations around the Cedar Creek area, Badlands National Park, SD.

White rock formations, white sands and dry yellow grass, against a blue sky.

Rock formations around the “Window Trail”.

Small bird with a long beak on white sandy ground.

Small badland bird.

Rattlesnake warning sign in front of badland landforms.

It pays to keep your ears, not just your eyes, open!

The craggy lanscape of the SD badlands.

Peaks, gullies and buttes

Young blond child climbing through badlands.

Some visiting children explore the badlands, using them like a natural jungle-gym.

Yucca plant in yellow bloom against white sands, badlands and blue skies.

Plants at the edge: narrow-leaf yucca.

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.

Prairie Dog

A prairie dog standing guard.

The black-tailed prairie dog on white sandy ground.

A black-tailed prairie dog outside its hole.

Prairie dog

Prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are part of the squirrel (Sciuridae) family.

Two boys in matching caps feeding ground squirrels.

Kids love feeding the prairie dogs.

Two prairie dogs standing back to back.

Prairie dogs have a complex form of communication, and seem to take turns guarding the colony.

Ground Squirrel

Watchful prairie dog.

Ground squirrel eating a peanut.

Prairie dogs love peanuts.

Prairie Dog


Soft sunset over South Dakota badlands.

Sunset over the badlands.

Night over the badlands.

Night falls over the badlands.

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!

  • Gabe - August 25, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    Almost daydreamt of bad guys hiding in the dry gulches or American Indians evading the Calvary : )ReplyCancel

  • David - August 26, 2012 - 1:47 am

    Beautiful photo’s and comantary. Look forward to enjoying these wander’s regularly 🙂ReplyCancel

  • dietmut - August 26, 2012 - 9:04 am

    Leuk, dat je ons laat zien waar je bent opgegroeid. Leuke foto’s heb je voor deze serie gekozen Ursula. Ik wens je een fijn weekend, DietmutReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *