BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern part of South Dakota (Jackson, Pennington and Shannon Counties) in the United States. The national park spread over an area of 2,44,000 includes the Badlands Wilderness and features rugged terrain and unique rock formations in the shape of colourful domes and canyons. These formations, however, stand in stark contrast against the hills and prairies where they are located. Badlands was declared as Badlands National Monument in March, 1929 but it was officially established only in January 1939. It was redesignated as a national park in November 1978. Red Shirt Table (1,020 metres) is the highest point in the park.

About 60 million years ago when the Rockies Mountains were at its stage of infancy, a large number of streams transported eroded soil and rock eastward from the range and deposited them on the vast lowlands, which are known today by the name of the Great Plains. Dense vegetation gradually covered these lowlands, which was later buried by new sediments. The vegetation turned into lignite coal with the passage of time. Some of the plant life became petrified (huge amount of exposed petrified wood is seen in the badlands today). Sediments continued to be deposited in the area and more streams cut through the soft rock layers, forming the current geological features. Human beings used the area for hunting animals for thousands of years. Towards the end of the 19th century, US government drove off the natives of the area resulting in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.

The term “badlands” was first used to describe the area of South Dakota that is the world’s most extensive and best example of this kind of topography. Badlands are found in many parts of the world. This kind of geological formation usually occurs in semiarid climates and is characterized by countless gullies and ridges, as well as sparse vegetation.

Badlands National Park, almost 100 miles long and 50 miles wide, cuts across the Great Plains of southwestern South Dakota. But you can walk or drive across the rolling grasslands almost to its borders without being aware that this vast expanse of otherworldly terrain is nearby. Suddenly, in a matter of a few yards, you are amid a theatrical and bewildering jumble of towers and imposing buttresses. Rock palaces, hundreds of feet high, loom large against big prairie sky.

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~ by ferry1984 on June 27, 2011.

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