Before you reach the Badlands of South Dakota, you can learn some serious history at the visitor's center on Interstate 90 above the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark camped in the area both coming and going on their expedition. The visitor's center does a very nice job of detailing that information, the lives of those explorers and the hardships they endured.
After miles and miles of almost monotonous grasslands, you suddenly find the Badlands of South Dakota. They are very unique and I was struggling with an original description of my own, so I borrowed one from a 2017 South Dakota vacation guide we received from the state. (I really wish I could take credit for this.) "244,000 acres of dramatic desert-like landscapes and an endless panoroma of vividly colored buttes, pinnacles, spires, and canyons make up the Badlands. The signature stripes through the rock formations are a result of erosion revealing multicolored layers of various rock types: shale (purple and yellow), sand and gravel (tan and gray), iron oxides (red and orange), and volcanic ash (white). It also preserves the world's greatest fossil beds of animals from the Age of Mammals during much wetter conditions. Fossils include saber-tooth cats, miniature camels and horses, and gigantic rhinoceros-like beasts." I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Here's sort of how the landscape transition takes place.
And back to grassland with the Black Hills in the distance.
But before we close, Rhonda has been so looking forward to seeing prairie dogs and there were some of those in the Badlands also. The mounds and their inhabitants:
See you in Sturgis!