The Lakota people, who have occupied the area for hundreds of years, called it mako sica. To early French fur trappers, it was known as les mauvaises terres. Both names mean the same thing: Badlands. If you can’t hunt it, fish it, farm it, or mine it— what good is it? Fortunately, our tastes have changed. We have come to appreciate areas for their natural beauty and Badlands National Park has an abundance. BTW, where there is a will there is a way. People have finally found a way to make money off of beautiful places. It’s called tourism.
Speaking of tourism, we stayed in a small campground near Wall Drug, a tourist attraction that has mastered the art of pulling people off of the road. It started with offering them free ice water in the 60s and 70s by advertising on 3,000 small wooden road signs throughout South Dakota and neighboring states. I first came across the signs in the 60s. It was impossible not to be curious. This time, Peggy and I found the small wooden signs had been morphed into numerous billboards as we crossed South Dakota on I-90.
The term wall, in Wall Drug, comes from the primary feature of the Badlands, a hundred mile wall from which the Badlands have been eroding at an inch per year for the past 500,000 years or so creating mesas, ridges, and gullies with unique structures of considerable beauty. The 31 mile Loop Road the National Park features takes visitors along the wall and down into the Badlands, providing a great introduction. We will feature views from along the Loop Road today.
27 thoughts on “Badlands National Park: WOW! …Plus Wall Drug”
Precious prarie dog capture and wonderful series Curt.
This post brings forth many memories, Curt. I first visited in 1964 [the free ice water signs go back to 1936]. In 2018, we were wandering through Nebraska where Alie had what we thought was a bad cold. But she wanted to divert up to South Dakota to see the Badlands which she had missed because she was ill on a previous trip. About the time we hit the border, her “cold” disappeared. It turns out the state flower of Nebraska is goldenrod [Who knew?]; she was allergic to it, the flower disappeared as soon as we hit dry South Dakota and so did her sneezing. By unusual coincidence, while reading your post tonight, I am wearing a belt purchased at Wall Drug, not necessarily a bargain but it is real leather which is hard to find these days.
I love the Badlands loop! Thanks for sharing these gorgeous shots. It looks like you and Peggy had a terrific day for the drive.
I’m long overdue for another visit to the Badlands and Wall Drug. Thanks for the reminder.
The Badlands is far more interesting and beautiful than I imagined.
Well worth the visit! Of course, head west from there and you hit the Black Hills, another treat.
Excellent photos! The vistas are very similar to the Alberta Badlands, which are home to one of the largest deposits of dinosaur bones in the world.
Peggy and I were just at a dinosaur bone museum in Hill City, South Dakota that was crammed full of fossils. It was fascinating. I’ll do a post on it, but it will be a while before I get to it. Thanks, Margy. -Curt
What beautiful landscapes. I haven’t visited the Badlands, and with my appreciation of rocks and geology, I should. Great photos to entice me. Thanks, Curt (and Peggy) for sharing your trip.
Thanks, D, Peggy and I are fans of so-called badlands, wherever they are found. Petrified Forest NP in Arizona is another great place to find them. BTW, I went to Amazon and downloaded your book onto my Kindle but it hasn’t shown up. I’ll go back and try again. I’m ready to read it. 🙂
So many great places to visit, Curt. And thank you for downloading (trying to download) the book! I have no idea why it didn’t show up. Sometimes that happens on my kindle and I have to do a “search” to find what I’m looking for. I hope that you enjoy the read! ❤
I’m sure I will, D. 🙂
Show me a prairie dog, and I’m ready to melt. I love those little critters. Of course, when they come with a landscape like that as a backdrop, it’s even better. Wall Drug probably was (may have been?) part of the model for our own version called Buc-ees. You probably came across some of those gas station/emporiums while you were here. Like Wall Drug, the big ones are travel destinations. More than a few families will say to one another, “Hey! It’s Sunday afternoon and not much is going on. Let’s go over to Buc-ees and browse the aisles.” Not only that, they really do have the cleanest restrooms in the world, and good pay and benefits for the workers. (That probably helps to explain the clean restrooms.)
I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve never been to a Bug-ees, Linda. I didn’t even know they existed. Now I will keep my eye out. We’ll be back that way in November/December.
I was at the Badlands (and Wall Drug!) when I was in high school and I’ve always wanted to go back to do more hiking! Fabulous pictures
Thanks, MB. We really enjoyed exploring the area. I’ve spent enough time in so called ‘badlands’ to know that we were in for a treat. –Curt
Stunning landscape! Love the variety.
A hall mark of ‘badlands,’ Alison. 🙂 Natures way of painting. BTW, we are getting closer to Washington and BC. I’ll try to figure out a timeframe tomorrow. We also have good friends living in the Bellingham area so we will be up close to the border. –Curt
Gorgeous! Gorgeous! I can’t get over how much it looks like central Oregon. Would you agree? You and Peggy must have visited the Painted Hills and Fossil Beds and Blue Basin? Also how fabulous is it that the Badlands of ND are the site of dinosaur fossils, and so is the similar landscape in central Oregon. There must be a reason for this, and my geology-trained offspring would probably be able to help me understand. It’s so good to receive your dispatches, Curt. I hope that Iorek got all checked out and received the Blue Ribbon of approval for soundness.
Right you are on Central Oregon, Crystal. Of the badlands I’ve seen, they all have a similar look, whether in Oregon, the Southwest, or Oregon.
Great fossils but not dinosaurs. Sorry if I wan’t clear on that. It wasn’t the result of the badlands, however. The area was under the ocean at the time of the dinosaurs! There are, however, places in the Dakotas that are great for finding dinosaurs.
Glad you are enjoying the posts, Crystal. Iorek and Serafina are perking along just fine. And say thank you. 🙂
I would admit the signs pulled me in to check out Wall Drug in the late 70s. The tourist shop was kind of kitschy, but the clean, cold water made the stop worth it.
I wonder what the geologists would say about the colors?
Kitschy is a good word, Dave, and I’m pretty sure the Wall Drug folks would agree with you. It seems that kitschy is what they were shooting for.
The geologists always have a lot to say about the color of rocks. BTW, while we are on the subject of rocks, have you ever been to Dry Falls in Washington, the 3 1/2 mile cliff that the glacial water came flowing over when the glacial dam in Montana broke. Water racing at 65 miles per mile and 400 feet deep. Incredible.
I haven’t been to Dry Falls, but I remember seeing a segment about it on PBS by a guy who has done several segments on the Pacific NW. Interesting stuff. I was in the Palouse in Eastern Washington earlier this year for a photography workshop, and one of the participants was an amateur geologist who gave us the rundown on that area. As I’m almost out of Mexico posts, I’ll probably have a couple about that trip coming up.
Looking forward to them, Dave.
Amazing landscape, Curt! We marveled at how many structures are around, they are so similar, yet so different. We didn’t see any wildlife when we visited the park back in 2016, probably because we didn’t hang around enough🙂
Different structures with different colors. Always changing with the perspective and the time of day, part of the magic. We found most of the wildlife on the side road instead of the main road through the park. Thanks for visiting Christie.
Ooooh! I love the prairie dogs. They had gone missing from Eric’s favorite spot in NM… I had so hoped to see them. How very clever of Peggy to catch that charming shot. You two make me wish I had had a bunch more time to spend in the Badlands way back in the day… can’t say I regret having passed Wall Drug by though I may have had to pause to ‘fill ‘er up perhaps.
I’m truly enjoying Peggy’s eye for the scenics. 🤗Good! More prairie dogs to come… 😏