arrived in the bad lands after a full day of driving. finally, some landscape to look at after miles and miles of prairie and farms. not that there’s anything wrong with that, just not very interesting visually.
the thing that’s amazing about the badlands is that the landscape changes dramatically in an instant. one minute it’s grassland and the next minute it’s like coming out of the other side of a time portal and landing on mars. one would expect the rover to come over the next hill and start snapping photographs. they say the area was formed after a salt water sea evaporated and left sediment that continues to erode today.
from the badlands national park website:
the badlands were formed by the geologic forces of deposition and erosion. deposition of sediments began 69 million years ago when an ancient sea stretched across what is now the great plains. after the sea retreated, successive land environments, including rivers and flood plains, continued to deposit sediments. although the major period of deposition ended 28 million years ago, significant erosion of the badlands did not begin until a mere half a million years ago. erosion continues to carve the badlands buttes today. eventually, the badlands will completely erode away.
that will be a sad day, but in the meantime, stop there if you get the chance. it’s an amazing display of natural rock formations.
[thx to libbey for some of the photos]