|Pointed peaks in stratified rock of the Badlands National Park|
When visiting national parks, we like to watch films that are shown in visitor’s centers. These are usually beautifully done and provide history of the park in a concise and understandable way.So one morning during our stay at Cedar Pass Lodge in Badlands National Park, we moseyed into the nearby Ben Reiffel Visitor Center to look at exhibits and watch the 22-minute film called “Land of Stone and Light.”
|Rounded rock formations actually contain an interesting palate of color.|
From that film we learned that human history of the location goes back 12,000 years. The Lakota Indians were nomadic tribes whose lives depended on buffalo for shelter, clothes (skin and fur), food and cooking—really everything.
|Buffalo are thriving now in the Badlands. They play an important|
part in the ecosystem of the park.
|Larry hiking the Notch Trail into the Badlands|
|Hikes brought us very close to the rugged|
For a long while no one was interested in the area except geologists who studied the layers of rock. During the prehistoric period, ash from volcanic eruptions fell on the Badlands, and rain washed rock from the Rocky Mountains there. Layers developed: pierre shale (the lower level), brule (mid-level dark stripes), and sharps (top formations).Climatic change, river deposits, and volcanic eruptions—followed by erosion—created what we know as Badlands. About 500,000 years ago wind, weather, and time began a period of erosion that has resulted in what we see today.
|Beautiful colors glow in late afternoon night.|
As part of a dynamic and changing earth, the rocks are eroding at the rate of one inch per year. It’s possible that the stratified rock formations of the Badlands may be gone in another 500,000 years. In the meantime, plants and animals must adapt to a harsh environment with cold winters, hot summers, and wildly variable precipitation amounts.
|A formation called "the window." You can see why.|
|Geologists are greatly interested in the layered peaks and buttes|
of Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
People who come to the Badlands today are generally curious about nature and want to see this extraordinary place for themselves. Besides, I know that any land that has been designated a U.S. national park is worth visiting.
|A national grassland covers the early landscapes of the park.|
|Sunset seen through the rock formations of the Badlands.|
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier