"The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today."
It's very easy to believe that pre-historic animals roamed here. The entire landscape is one of unnatural beauty and unparalleled starkness. To survive in this area, one must be strong and able to handle anything. This area is not for the faint hearted. The name, Bad Lands says it all. The craggy peaks and miles of sandrock show centuries of wear from wind and rain. The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.”
It's fascinating to learn that this land has supported humans for more than 11,000 years. The earliest were Mammoth hunters, followed by nomadic tribes whose well being depended on buffalo. The Arikara was the first tribe to have inhabited the White River area, replaced in the 18th Century by Sioux or Lakota, who learned horsemanship from the Spaniards. But even they were only successful here for around 100 years.
Next up were french fur trappers, followed by soldiers, miners, cattle farmers and homesteaders, all who helped change the face of the prairie. In 1890, the Lakota were confined to reservations after the Wounded Knee Massacre and the old prairies began to adopt a modern look.
Warning: if prehistoric mountain ranges don't interest you, then the over 100 pictures below are probably not for you. Although Dave did get a shot of me standing on the edge of a canyon. Those of you who know me and my fear of heights will smile at this.