For many, the South Dakota Badlands are a drive-by on the way to the Black Hills or Yellowstone – a short detour off I-90 through what would have been wasteland in another era.
The beauty of the Badlands isn’t fully appricated through a car window at 25mph. Hitting the dirt – hiking the footpaths and trails – helps me see beyond the starkness of the erosion and into the subtle beauty that nature has hidden within the park.
Meadowlarks and sparrows in the brush, a hawk overhead, and with luck, a bighorn sheep or buffalo. Plants struggling to reach water, insects hidden from the sun, all attempting to survive in these hostile hills.
Sunrise sunset and rain all change the flavor and characteristics of the Badlands, bringing out different colors and shades of light and their own beauty. The bright whites of the midday Sun give way to the shades and hues of the golden hours. The damp, deep colors brought out by recent rain darken the sun bleached landscape.
The beauty here is not like the green and tan of the east . It’s different, but it is no less.