Greg Hatten visits Badlands National Park

img_4280Ed. note: Our friend Greg Hatten took a small detour to Badlands on his way home from Oregon this year. And since our #pendle10park explorer has shown us so many photos of spires and stacks, we thought we’d share Greg’s beautiful prairie shots, as the prairie is a huge part of this beautiful South Dakota park. Enjoy!

In the Badlands National Park, there is a Wilderness Area where bison, coyotes, prairie dogs, and snakes make their homes. You can be a guest there and share this space with them – at least for a night or two.

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Look closely; there be prairie dogs in this photo.

img_4291We love the bison here, but we also love the national park stickers on Greg’s windshield. These were an enticement to the early motorists traveling from park to park. Like this (this is not Greg, though):

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Now, back to Greg’s story in the present day.

It’s the primitive camping area at Sage Creek in the North Unit of the park and if you take the rutted dusty “rim road” on the north side of the Badlands park you will find it – tucked between the gentle bluffs and rolling hills of buffalo grass in South Dakota – just southeast of Rapid City and the Black Hills.

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As I pulled into the area, it was a warm day for October and the only signs of life were a couple of bison calmly grazing who didn’t even look up as I rolled by in my FJ Cruiser pulling my little wooden boat. A ring-necked rooster pheasant was quite a bit more shy but still curious about the sound of loose gravel crunching beneath the tires. My window was down and I took a quick photo just before he put his head down and disappeared in the tall grass.

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While there are no rivers to “float” in the Badlands, I was towing my boat through the park on my way to the midwest for a little off-season repair work. I’m so used to camping next to the boat on the river, it somehow seemed to “fit” in this rustic setting. If nothing else, I figured it would be a nice wind break for my campsite. I picked a level spot for the tent that was in-between buffalo “pies” that were stale and crusty and no longer smelled. The canvas tent blended with the terrain and when camp was “set”, I pulled out my lap-top and did some late afternoon writing as the sun set and the temperatures started dropping.

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Greg’s post has a lot of beautiful photos and much more story. Read the rest here: Find Your Park in a Wooden Boat: Badlands

See Pendleton’s Badlands National Park items here: SHOP BADLANDS

 

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Badlands National Park, our Last #pendle10park for 2016

IMG_6726It’s been an incredible year for Pendleton and our parks, as we help celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. Our #pendle10park explorers have taken you from California to Maine. We are going to finish out the year with Badlands National Park.

South Dakota’s Badlands were authorized as a National Monument in 1929, officially established in 1939 and designated as a National Park on November 10, 1978. Badlands National Park is home to haunting natural beauty and some of the richest fossil beds in North America.

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The name “Badlands” comes from the Lakota, who moved into the western plains during the late 18th century. They called the area Mako Sica, which translates as “eroded land” or “bad land.” As they traveled and hunted, the Lakota found the White River Badlands fossil beds and correctly surmised that the area had been underwater. They believed the skeletons belonged to a great sea beast called Unktegila. The ghost dances of the Lakota, led by the visionary Wovoka, were held in the remote tablelands of the Badlands.

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History echoes in the spires and peaks of the eroded rock formations, across the prairies, and in the secluded valleys where Native American tribes have been hunting and living for 11,000 years.

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Settlers and homesteaders arrived in the 20th century, but struggled to find a foothold in such arid conditions. The Dust Bowl wiped out most of the area’s farming, and plagues of grasshoppers took care of the rest. Abandoned sod houses dotted the area until the wind and weather took them down. Today, the area supports wheat farming.

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Badlands National Park is a designated wilderness preserve. Here, you can experience the largest protected mixed-grasses prairie in the US. You can see mule deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and coyotes. Look a little closer to the ground, and you will see black-tailed prairie dogs. You might even catch a glimpse of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. And of course, you’ll see the American Land Bison, or buffalo.

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The Badlands are an “avian crossroad,” a habitat for both eastern and western birds. The cliffs make excellent hunting grounds for golden eagles and prairie falcons. Cliff swallows and rock pigeons nest in the countless hollows. It is a birder’s paradise, but explore this park with caution; the country is hard to travel, with sharp rocks, yielding substrate, and very little water.

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Sunset here is particularly beautiful. Enjoy it among the formations, as the setting sun catches the pinnacles, casting dramatic shadows.

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Or settle onto the prairie, and enjoy the sounds of South Dakota; the wind in the grass and the evening birdsong.

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Photography by Emmanuel Beltran: @stick_e

Shop Pendleton Badlands National Park: SHOP

Celebrating America’s Treasures with the #pendle10park Explorers

Last year, we sent out a call on Instagram, asking for photographers to take our blankets home to their parks. We were overwhelmed with responses! After diligent review of well over a thousand Instagram feeds, we chose ten and called it good.

You’ve seen their work all year, but this video takes you on a tour of all ten parks, with a catchy banjo score that has us tapping our feet here at the office. So Happy Birthday to the National Park Service and thank you to our #pendletonparks explorers. You can see them all (and follow them ALL on Instagram) at the end of the movie.

 

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Pendleton for the National Parks