South Dakota Badlands Photography

South Dakota Badlands Photography Adventure

The Lakota called them “mako sica.” The French called them “les mauvais terres pour traverse.” We call them the Badlands. In all of the National Parks, there is no other park with such a foreboding name. It conjures images of ashen gravel and the reeking stench of sulfur. But, on my first visit to the park, I could hardly conceal my childish disappointment. Where were the black skies? The smoking oily pits? There weren’t even any volcanoes!

South Dakota Badlands Photography Adventure - Fine Art Photography of Wayne Moran

Instead, out of the swaying prairie grasses rose rocky and worn pinnacles, cracked and jagged. Mounds and gullies broke the earth into uneven and scattered chunks; pale vegetation clung desperately to life. Taken as a whole, it seemed as though the gentle grassy covering of the earth had been stripped away, revealing a saw-toothed skeleton.

South Dakota Badlands Photography Adventure

While it’s true, the park doesn’t feature the over-the-top apocalyptic hell-scape I had originally envisioned, it only took a second or third trip, before I came to truly appreciate Badlands National Park. With its colorful geological strata and distant pronghorn and bison, plus the rich fossil deposits and numerous other plants and animals that call it home, it actually has become one of my favorite places to visit.

But after hours in the sun, dusty gravel crumbling under every step, deep ravines and steep peaks all around, intimidating even riding in our modern air-conditioned cars, it still can seem like an area perhaps best avoided.

South Dakota Badlands Photography Adventure

And so it remains difficult to argue with the Lakota name that means, “land bad” or the French trappers phrase that translates to “bad lands to travel through.” Yet I cannot help myself but be attracted to the absolute desolation. The Badlands represent the earth at it’s least inviting; it’s least forgiving, and for the curiosity in all of us, that proves unforgettable.

Written by:
John VanOverbeke

Note: All of these images and more are available At The Gallery

Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website