I saw a lot of this country on my drive from Massachusetts to Washington, but overall, I’d have to say that the Badlands were the most significant. They brought me to tears.
Badlands National Park was the first nature-related stop we made on our drive across the country (Check out the map at the end of the post.) After the urban decay in Detroit, metropolis of Chicago and Toronto, and hanging out with friends in Milwaukee, we were ready to leave some things behind and do some introspection. States like the ones we had yet to cover — South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana — were just the thing we needed.
When you tell people you’re going on a drive across the country, one of the first things they tell you is that you’re going to get bored with the scenery around the Great Plains. “There’s a who bunch of nothing,” they say. Well, the nothing was beautiful.
South Dakota was full of green rolling hills dotted with cows and entertaining billboards. We took the main interstate the whole way through, something we didn’t do in any other state. That day, we crossed most of the state under grey skies with looming dark clouds that we were trying to stay well ahead of. As we got closer and closer to the Badlands, the edge of the clouds became clear, and as soon as we reached the park, the sun had set low enough to shine what looked to be all the way down the road we had traveled.
The golden light washed the rocks over as we meandered through the park, seeing goats, deer, and other animals. Tons of photographers were out that evening, including myself. I think we hit the jackpot.