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November 20, 2018

NP 9/63

Written By: Kayla

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AZ to MI

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When I was in college, I had to take what I liked to call a “dirt class.” I was very quickly directed to never say dirt, but rather soil (thus the very appropriate title - Soil Science 334). Throughout the semester, the class was introduced to the properties of soil, how soil is classified and soil resource issues. While maybe not the most thrilling topics for conversation, the class has crossed my mind often while traveling to different parks. A lot of this has to do with learning about the different layering in rocks and soils. This layering is frequently visible when hiking or driving through parks. We often see layers in the rocks that show evidence of water levels and varying aspects of nature, including deposition and erosion. Insert Badlands National Park.


Welcome To The Badlands!

This beautiful National Park is the result of years and years of deposition and erosion. This process is not something that took place over hundreds of years, but millions. Each layer represents a different formation created from the deposit of sand, silt and clay. Based on which sediments are deposited throughout the majority of a formation, you can gain a better understanding on the history of the foundations and area. Looking out into the layers of large rock formations doesn’t  always give the illusion of a large flowing river, however years ago the Cheyenne River flew through and began eroding the region.


Many, Many Layers

Due to erosion, it is believed the formations within Badlands will be completely worn in another 500,000 years. This means the beautiful geological formations are short-lived in rock-years and makes the National Park that much more precious to current day visitors.


Badlands National Park

Driving through Badlands National Park will give you all the amazing views the park has to offer. We stopped at a few overlooks including Big Badlands Overlook and Bigfoot Pass Overlook. Both have stunning views and are easily accessible. Driving through the main road will give you access to all overlook points and an opportunity to get on foot and walk through the formations themselves.


Such Unique Beauty

Door Trail was by far one of our favorite experiences in a park, because it makes you feel like a true explorer. Door Trail received its name because it essentially provided a break in the wall of formations to create a “door” to view the park. When you reach the end of the boardwalk trail, you can then go explore on your own. The “trail” is following along with the top of the rock formations as far as you feel comfortable. The walkway is wide enough and you can remain close to the boardwalk. We had a blast walking through here while looking at the view and taking photographs. I even convinced Colin to take a few boomerangs of me jumping (a difficult task when he doesn’t always trust my grace and stability).


Kayla's Default Adventure Photo

And Of Course, A Boomerang!

Just Another Day In The Badlands

Prairie Dog Central!

**Be sure to have your sound on so you can hear the cute noises these tiny mammals make.

Even if you are short on time for a visit to this park, we would recommend still driving through. The rock formations are close to the road and you can experience much of the beauty just by driving by. Our other tidbit of information is to check for bathrooms before heading into the park. A few of the stops have them, as indicated on the park map, however after drinking so much water, it is important to always know your bathroom route. We ended up backtracking for a few miles after realizing the nearest bathroom was quite a few miles ahead of us and we wanted to hike in-between.

Following our route through the park was a great way to observe the beauty of what was once a flowing river, all the way to a view full of grass and talking creatures. We enjoyed getting to explore on our own and create memories full of laughter and long romantic walks with Big Horn Sheep.

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