Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Badlands National Park–South Dakota

Weather – freezing, grey with a bit of snow.

Mileage so far: 4,200 miles

Badlands and nearby


The night we arrived in the tiny town of Interior, SD we decided to go to the bar for a little warmth and beer. We stopped at the Horseshoe bar, a tiny place frequented by some of the 67 locals and a few others. In the summer it is rammed with bikers, and park visitors.

The owner was a great guy who talked to us and the 3 other patrons for ages about any and everything.

The thing to do here is to write your name on a bank note and tape it to his wall or ceiling. Here’s ours, preserved forever with the other 2000 or so.


He fed us Buffalo casserole, corn and giant radishes and said we could stay the night in his car park, save driving after beers. So we did







IMG_0581Another of the guys in the bar was a real life cowboy! There is such a thing. His day job was on a cattle ranch, but about 100 days a year he is off around the country competing in rodeos. That’s the one where the horse tries to ditch you asap and you hold on for at least 8 seconds, at that point the judges start noticing your style and award points for that and your duration. He who scores the most points wins the most money, I'm told it’s pretty lucrative if you’ve got a strong grip and don’t mind being mashed into the dirt by a lively horse.


Badlands park

SD - White river valley in the Badlands NP

White river valley overlook in Badlands National Park. This was shortly after a bright red dawn, but the clouds came and made the light go flat again. This is an HDR, composite photo made from 12 images.

The Badlands were so named by French fur trappers in the early 1800s who passed through the area. It’s dry, stinking hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. The Dakota indians named it “mako sica” or land bad.

The area was once part of a giant salt water sea. Upheaval and volcanic activity pushed the sea floor up. As the water drained away, it left behind board, marshy plains.

The peaks in the above photo go for miles in varying sized pockets. They’re made by deposition and erosion of material over the eons, and the colouration comes from the various minerals mixed in. the white comes from volcanic ash and the red comes from iron deposits. It’s a spectacular place but it’s eroding still. The material is very soft and can be crumbled between your fingers and in 50,000 years it’ll pretty much all be gone. So, there’s no rush but it’s worth a look if you’re in the area.

Wall Drug, SD

This place is a regional institution. Set up by Dorothy and and Ted Hustead in 1931 in Wall, SD. A town of around 300 poor farmers, cleaned out by drought, dust storms and poor harvests. After 4 years of slow business and on noticing the volume of traffic on the nearby road, Dorothy had the idea of offering free ice water to passing motorists and erected a sign to that effect. It worked  From then on they expanded their advertising down the highway. Today they’re visible from every direction to about 100miles.

The shop is a huge place now and certainly not a drug store, but it’s full of great stuff and even a plastic T-rex in the back yard. It’s cheesy, but it’s fun.


Here’s the boots section. Some are as much as $500.




The next day

Steff woke me up early to point out the bright red sunrise so we got up sharpish and drove out to a good viewpoint. Sadly, the ‘red sky in the morning’ idiom was bourn out and it clouded over. Still, I got a nice picture and afterwards Steff fed us.


Breakfast at Stephanie’s. Porridge and coffee overlooking the white river valley in the Badlands, national park.





We took our photos, had our breakfast and headed south over the plains and saw an interesting old car sitting in the grass. It was peppered with bullet holes as were the old ovens and other metallic detritus scattered around.



Cars are not bullet proof







Onwards to the black hills and mount Rushmore


  1. Man, awesome photos. Is the one of the red car a hdr one too? Great colours. What program are you using to stitch them together?

  2. Thanks, mate. Yes, the car is an HDR too. I made it a bit stronger than it was in real life, but not much.

    I use Photomatix for the HDR and PTGui for the stitching. PTGui can do HDR stitching but it's fussy so I often make the HDRs in PM and feed them into PTG. That's what i did for the badlands view.

  3. The car pic may be my favourite so far... Definitely one to hang on the wall, once we have one!

  4. I printed to car pic, front view, it looks great, it is a 47 or 48 Chevrolet Fleetline Coupe, -needs a little work.