My feet over the abyss, and a stupid bunny who let me get way too close: coyote snack.
Claire being brave, and a prairie blossom
Badlands National Park got its name from the early French trappers and American settlers because of the eroded spires and hoodoos of rock that made travel difficult. I couldn’t find out what the Lakota (Sioux) called the beautiful (to me) land, but they made a good life there hunting bison until the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. The mixed-grass prairie on the highlands, and on the White River lowlands, is the largest such prairie in the National Park System; it is home to the newly introduced black footed ferret, that feeds on the Park’s many black tailed prairie dogs. Long gone, probably never to return, are the wolf and grizzly.
Whitetail deer out for a morning munch in a meadow
The fantastic eroded soft rock is a wonderful playground for the sure-footed, providing infinite routes in over and around the fantastic shapes. The colorful bands tell a story of millions of years of inland seas filled by river sediments; watering holes collected the bones of vertebrates long extinct, just now being dug up and classified. We were able to visit one such dig and watch the workers carefully brush soil away from bones undisturbed for 75 million years. Humans are a very brief part of the history of the Earth: it is unsettling that we are so thoughtless in our treatment of such a precious gift. Some are learning.
If you ever get a chance, detour off of I-90, and spend a half-day at least taking in this less-visited park. You won’t be sorry.