The Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA

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The visuals of the Badlands change depending on the place and time.

The easiest way to see Badlands National Park is to enter the park at the Northeast Entrance and take the Badlands Loop Road, which runs all along the rim of the canyons of the north part of the park. This shot, and the two below it were made from pullouts along that road.

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But, they're always dry and bleak.

Right off the road on the North Loop through the northern part of the park. There are several pullouts along the highway were you can stop for a minute or two to take a photo. Or, in our case, we just sort of pull onto the shoulder and let people work their way around us.

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The blueishness of the light was a bit surprising.

It's not hard to imagine why the Lakota Sioux named this area the Bad Land. There's no water. It's mostly white stone makes the sun even more punishing. and there don't seem to be any trails that can get you straight through. It's best to stay on the road.

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Yet another scene.

This vista of the southern part of Badlands National Park is available only after doing a little work–and risking some damage to the underside of your vehicle. This is the view from near the end of the road called Sheep Mountain Table. The first three miles or so of the road wind uphill pretty steadily in the south part of the park, which is also known as the “you're-on-your-own” part of the park. After climbing slowly, you get to a point in the road that warns: “High Clearance Vehicles Only Beyond This Point.” We bought our Subaru Outback just for moments like this. It's not real high high clearance, but we thought of giving it a try. It was barely high enough to get by the rutted road, and I had to do a little fancy driving to avoid the deepest crevasses. But we got almost to the end of the road with only minor damage, and then got out and walked a few hundred yards more to get this view from the edge of the drop off.

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And finally, a little grass at the south end of the park.

If you're taking it easy, and you pretty much have to because there's a lot of traffic in the summer, you can just take the pullouts wherever you find them and take your time to stare at some pretty stark scenery. This is near the western side of the southern part of the Park. Other than the Sheep Mountain Table road, there is only one road that skirts the park to the east, and another that borders it on the south. There's no way actually into the southern part of the park by car. So you look into the park from the dirt road along the south, and see this.

You can see a list here of all the United States National Parks, with links to our stories about the ones we've visited.

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6 thoughts on “The Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA”

    • In a real American sort of way, it reminds me of a Bill Mauldin cartoon from World War II. An officer is looking out from a high point at a beautiful vista and he turns to his aide and says, “This is beautiful. Is there a view like this for enlisted men?”


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