Our National Park system is a bloody treasure and let no one tell you otherwise.  There are 59 of them and they take us everywhere from the South Pacific (American Samoa, and not to be confused with the terrible musical) to the North Pole (Gates of the Arctic, in Alaska).SouthDakota

Badlands National Park had been on my to-do list for years.  Hitherto, I hadn’t had any good excuses to be in South Dakota.  But a very good reason fell into my lap when SD materialized smack in between Chicago – where I started – and Idaho – where I ended up.

Badlands is physically striking, both for the landscapes and the wildlife.  It’s also a geological marvel, offering naked-eye testimony of all the things this land has been over the eons: grassland, desert, fresh water sea bed, etc..

My 2 year-old Windows Phone did the best it could in the hands of an awful photographer:

Badlands from far away


Badlands up close
Badlands up close


Badlands as floor tile
Badlands as floor tile


P.S.  Decided to cross Wyoming and enter Yellowstone using state highways instead of the Interstate.  I knew there would be plenty to see, but this leg of the drive was unexpectedly beautiful.  Going east to west, and beginning in Buffalo, Wyoming is the Cloud Peak Skyway.  Lived up to billing.  After some less interesting high-plains driving through central Wyoming, I stopped in Cody, a cowboy town that serves as gateway to the Shoshone National Forest and then to Yellowstone.  Recommended in Cody: Rawhide Coffee.  Great folks, great coffee, great book library, great wifi.

Photo: Grace Z. on Yelp

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