The Starkness of the Badlands

by hopesfrenzy

In the summer of 2014, Stéphane and I drove across the country to move him to Michigan for graduate school. And these are the Badlands. Rugged hills, sharp pinnacles, backdropped against each other until you can’t tell where one ridge ends and another begins. Without a bit of contrast, even the photographs are difficult to decipher, let alone them in person. Desert hills, they seem, with little vegetation. As far as the eye could see.

Of course, they aren’t void of life. Bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, bison and plenty of plant life does exist and actually thrives here. It only took one left turn and few minutes into Badlands National Park for us to find animals: a herd of bighorn sheep! The sheep were quiet, standing and walking along the edge of the cliff. The tourists, stopped on the side of the road, wandered closer, taking photos. Myself included. Already I was falling in love with the place.

The sheep were quiet, standing and walking along the edge of the cliff. The cliffs were barely thick enough for the sheep to stand on them — testament to their natural abilities.

Surrounding the north side of the Badlands are these flat prairies, oddly juxtaposed next to the cliff drops. And, along the road, the prairie dogs in Badlands National Park were total hams! Stéphane and I drove through Prairie Dog town, where they sat by the road in their holes, yipping away! I took way too many pictures of the prairie dogs. Woops.

Across from the Prairie Dog town, I crossed the empty road and found a trail leading down down down into the Badlands. I immediately trolled down the path — Stéphane on the other hand, couldn’t handle the prospect of snakes or bugs or something and stayed behind. I walked a few hundred feet. All I could see was him at the top of the ridge (taking pictures of me), the hills in the distance and around me, and the dry dirt beneath my feet.

One of our final stops in the Badlands was the fossil bed area, where we trekked off the wooden path, among the strange formations. Spires surrounded us, too steep to climb.

All in all, we drove from Seattle to Minneapolis where I flew back to the PNW. On the way, we went through Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Montana, Yellowstone, the Black Hills, Wall, the Badlands, Pierre and Sioux Falls before arriving in Minnesota. It was an incredible journey filled with many adventures, amazing sights and much time together.

Road tripping with Stéphane
Location: Badlands National Park, South Dakota, US

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