Thursday, July 02, 2015

Bad to the Bone

After our second consecutive night of "Camelot Rain" (it only rains after 10 PM and is dry and beautiful the next day), we headed east from Rapid City to have breakfast at Wall Drug (pancakes for me and biscuits and gravy for Terry) before heading even further east to enter the Badlands National Park at the northeastern end.

The rest of the morning was spent driving the "Loop" and stopping frequently to enjoy the views.

The Badlands are often reminiscent of Bryce Canyon down in southern Utah. However, while Bryce is brightly--almost festively--colored in oranges and yellows, the Badlands are much more subdued in shades of white, gray, and occasionally blue and red. And, while the Badlands are spread over miles and miles of land, Bryce Canyon seems very compact. So compact is Bryce that you actually walk the park to get the best views.

When things are cloudy the rocks can be more colorful. The sun seems to bring out a brightness that blinds the eye.

Having formed in a shallow sea, the muds and clays contained few fossils from the time of the dinosaur. There are bones in the upper layers from early mammals who found themselves trapped in marshes and such.

The muds and sediments of a shallow inland sea millions of years old are hardly tilted in the entire park. Erosion has been the shaping force here.

The exception to the color rule. Orange, yellow, purple and blue layers of clay in one small area of the park.

Two of the three Bighorn Sheep grazing along the side of the road.

We ended the day driving through the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands before returning to our camp site for dinner.

We did see a couple of bison, but there were also many, many prairie dogs in the Grasslands.

Prairie Dog


threecollie said...

Now that is cool! Are there places where you can pick up fossils or are they all protected?

Rev. Paul said...

That's some gorgeous country.

joated said...

Sorry, threecollie. You're supposed to leave all fossils where you find them and report their location to a Ranger. Doesn't matter, really. Fossils are few and far between.

You ARE allowed to climb on some of the formations but why you would do so is a mystery to me.

joated said...

Paul, you live in ALASKA and can say that?

But seriously, yeah, it's pretty nifty. Especially when you turn to the north and see nothing but prairie grasses that are totally flat as far as the eye can see.