Join me, if you will, on a journey through one of the most forbidding destinations in the Great Plains. But I warn you – there’s danger in them thar hills, dire and perhaps deadly danger!
Unless, of course, you’re driving around comfortably in your car, as I was. Just play along, people!
Upon entering the park south of Wall, South Dakota, your first view is of this, the Pinnacles formation. It’s hard to convey in a single photograph just how massive this is – these formations literally go on for as far as the eye can see. How daunting it must have been to early settlers of the region, not knowing when – or if – the Badlands would ever end.
The soil colors are caused by the decomposition of different plants at various points in the area’s geologic history. The layers became fossilized and were thus preserved in the “rainbow” arrangement we see today.
This section almost reminds me of Arizona’s Native American cliff dwellings – except that no rational, civilized people would build a home here when they had a nice, comparatively comfortable desert available to them.
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of wildlife here, either, except for insects, and, of course, these lovely fellows.
Notice the teeny little structure up top – then imagine trying to climb your way up the sides of this enormous crevasse.
I’m pretty sure this is what Tolkien had in mind when he pictured the land of Mordor. Let’s hope Sauron isn’t still hanging out in here somewhere.
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