Badlands National Park

June 2, 2009 8:13 pm

Day 15 – Badlands National Park

Today we set out to our final destination; Badlands National Park.   Once again, this was unlike any of the places we had been previously.  Badlands was in one word: random.  We had been driving for several hours across the prairie and all of a sudden we come across this cliff complete with spectacularly random cliffs and what appeared to be giant sand castles. 

It’s very flat out here (and there are a lot of Buffalo)

It’s very flat out here (and there are a lot of Buffalo)

We took our time driving along the ~30 mile scenic road that winded along the cliff edge, stopping at the end to eat our tuna sandwich lunches.   On the way back we stopped at several scenic overlooks as well as at several short hikes bringing us slightly off the road to explore. 

Cliffs

Cliffs

Are we on Planet Earth?

Are we on Planet Earth?

Random Sandcastles

Random Sandcastles

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to the previous places we have been.  In many ways, the Badlands is like a combination of the grand canyon (as far as colors and the general surrounding flatness) and Bryce Canton as far as the really odd rock formations.  It is also hard not to become a bit glazed over to these amazing sites.  The size and scale of the Badlands does not compare to the scale of Bryce or any of the other sights we have seen, however it was spectacular in its own right.  The fact that you can look off in every direction and see grassland as far as the eye can see is breathtaking in and of itself.  Also, the rock sculptures here themselves are amazing.  They look like the most fragile sand castles, but in fact they are hard rock with only a trace of hardened mud to hint at a different scene during a rainstorm.  

DSC01466.jpg

DSC01466.jpg

One thing we had noticed on the drive from Mt. Rushmore to the Badlands was again something completely different: Missile Silos.  This whole area of Montana is littered with Missile Silos from the cold war.  These missile silos had enough nuclear weapons in them to destroy the world several times over.  Even still there are at least 500 missiles on standby at any given time.  Crazy.  On the way out of the Badlands we stopped by the starting of a new national historic site, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, dedicated to the history of these silos and the conflict which created them.  It was rather interesting, but at the moment rather incomplete as things were only starting to be setup.

When we finished up at the Minuteman Missile site, we realized that it was only about 4pm and we had covered the area around the Badlands quite well.  Looking at the map, the time we had left to drive, and what time we would arrive at home we decided to turn and head towards home a bit earlier than first planned.  This way we would get started on the driving a bit early and hopefully can miss traffic and end up back home a bit earlier than we were planning. 

— Your homeward bound boys

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