Our first National Park on this road trip was Badlands National Park. Before we drove through the park, we stopped at a place where you can see a lot of prairie dogs, a type of ground squirrel. These little animals are fun to watch and are very curious. We stayed a little while to look at them, see them communicate with each other, and take some pictures. Patience (and food, they love peanuts) are the key to making nice pictures of them. Conveniently, you can buy peanuts at the little store where you park your car.
Badlands National Park
Then we headed off to Badlands National Park, in South Dakota. It consists of buttes, pinnacles, and spires mixed with grass prairie. It is the home of a number of animals, not only prairie dogs but also bighorn sheep, bison, and deer. This area was called ´mako sica´ by the Lakota Indians and ´les mauvaises terres à traverser’, both meaning bad lands.
You see immediately that the rocks have layers with different colors, caused by different sediments that were accumulated by the different environments over time. The layers at the bottom are the oldest (around 70 million years), while the layers at the top are the youngest (30 million years).
However, Badlands National Park not only consists of rock formations but also grass prairie. Over 400 different plant species grow here and each plant species is adapted to the extreme climate conditions: hot, cold, dry, windy, with floods, droughts, and fire.
We choose driving the scenic route through the park and stop at some places for admiring the different views.
More information about Badlands National Park can be found here.