The Badlands

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The Badlands are a wilderness unlike any place I have ever seen before. There is something about how, just suddenly, the prairie stops and the the rocky surfaces of the Badlands begin that makes you feel completely transported. Like you are no longer in a place familiar and comfortable but in a terrain that feels otherworldly and as if you’ve woken up and found yourself on another planet.

When Austin and I moved from Lexington to Omaha, we made a list of new adventures to have. I had done some preliminary research and, when I found out that the Badlands were an eight hour drive from Omaha, I had crossed it off my list. However, when I mentioned it to Austin, his response was to tell me that eight hours most certainly is not too far and to start making plans because we were going to South Dakota. Also, because of the National Park Centennial, admission to the Badlands and Wind Cave were free. I needed no other urging.

Thankfully, we scored a sweet crossover instead of a sedan as our rental car so we packed our bags, made our reservation at the Cedar Pass Campground and prepared to make the drive Friday night after Austin got off work, spend two nights sleeping in the back of our car at our campsite (since our tent is currently in storage) and then spend our time exploring the Badlands and the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

“The Badlands grade all the way from those that are almost rolling in character to those that are so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth” -Theodore Roosevelt

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

“I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Badlands. What I saw gave me an indescribable sense of mysterious elsewhere.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

As we hiked along the trails in the Badlands, we were amazed by how, instantaneously, we began to feel like intrepid explorers in a Science Fiction film. The dry ground, our desolate surroundings, and the hot sun exhausted us, but we were happy to be outside exploring this strange new world.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

As a beautiful golden hour settled upon the Badlands, a cool breeze ran through the prairie grasses and the sun cast its warmth, softening the harsh rocks. We drove to one of our favorite viewpoints along the scenic highway and parked so we could settle, play frisbee, eat popcorn, and watch the sunset.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

My beloved grandfather used to tell a story of a favorite hat that was blown from his head and got carried into the depths of the Grand Canyon. The windy mornings in the Badlands almost subjected my Yellow 108 fedora to a similar fate.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Blanket: La Playa Blanket from Huckberry x Morning Culture. (For $10 shopping credit – click here!)

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

As the bright wilderness sun settled into the horizon, we curled up in the back of our car to watch its decent across the sky and wait for the stars to come out. If there is a more beautiful or peaceful way to end a day, I have not discovered it yet.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Have you ever been to the South Dakota Badlands?

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  • mapam30

    Never been…it looks like you enjoyed yourselves–The colors are all so lovely!

    • Thank you! And yes! The colors are stunning!

  • Mike C

    The Badlands hold a magical place in my heart, the wide open expanse. Great post and lovely photographs.

    • Thank you, Mike! We loved them too and we’ll always remember this trip as something very special.

  • This is such a strange, beautiful place. I’ll go there someday

    • Strangely beautiful is the perfect way to describe them. 🙂

  • LiviaRachelle

    I haven’t been, but the Badlands have had a place in my mind since I was little and listened to the haunting description of them in the Little House series.

    • I used to read the Little House books, but I don’t remember a description of the Badlands. Now I’m curious and I’m going to have to look it up!

      • LiviaRachelle

        Laura’s Uncle Tom described it in one of the later books, maybe Little Town on the Prairie.

  • Looks so amazing and so so so PEACEFUL!! I love all your pictures! Happy y’all had a good time! Great post girl!

    • Yes! It was so incredibly peaceful and perfect! Thank you so much, Anali and it’s lovely to meet you! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Your photos are so fantastic. As a MN native, it kind of hurts me to say I have never been to the Badlands. I need to change that soon!

    • Yes! You’ll definitely have to go soon! It was brutally hot while we were there so thankfully the cooler months are coming up if you try to make a trip to South Dakota this fall.

  • These photos are STUNNING!!!! I love that one with you in the blanket. Wow!!!!!

    • Thank you so much, Chelsea! So glad you liked it! We had so much fun with the photos on this trip! 🙂

  • Sheila Jo Spencer

    GORGEOUS photos! I love that you made a list of new adventures when you moved. Glad you made it home with your hat!

    • Hello Sheila! Thank you so much! And yes! I’m glad that I made it home with my hat too.

  • The Badlands looks so cool! I want to visit here 🙂 You guys also have the perfect car to sit back and enjoy the sunset.

    • The Badlands are incredibly cool! And yes – that Subaru turned out to be the perfect rental car for our adventure. I’m going to want to keep it and not give it back. 😉

  • Oh my gosh I love this all SOOOOOOOOO much! I want to go there!

    • Yes, Elizabeth! You have to make a trip. The Badlands are incredible.

  • Ruthie Ridley

    Oh wow!! I want to visit!! LOOKS AMAZING!!!

  • Mimi Rose

    The Badlands looks so pretty! I was just in South Dakota visiting Mt. Rushmore and I was so close to stopping in at the Badlands too but just didn’t have the time. Next trip for sure!

    • You definitely have to go the next time you’re in South Dakota! Did you enjoy your time at Mount Rushmore?

      • Mimi Rose

        Yes! I had a blast at Mt. Rushmore. It was cool to finally see something so iconic to this country. 🙂

  • Patricia Conte

    What a great adventure! Just gorgeous and fascinating, too! Glad you could take advantage of fee park admission 🙂

    • We’re so glad we got to take advantage of it too! Thanks for stopping by, Patricia!

  • Loved this post! So fun. And your photos are beautiful!

  • So awesome! I’m heading to Badlands in about a week and this post is photography goals. We are roadtripping from California and this is one of the last stops.

    • Thank you so much, Chelsea! 🙂 Enjoy your time in the Badlands! Will you be blogging about it? I’d love to see your photos and read about your adventures there!