As you travel along Interstate 90 across South Dakota you might notice a brown sign which says “Badlands Scenic Loop”. A glance at your road map shows a 31 mile loop going south of the interstate. From the vantage point out your window on I-90, nothing but flat open grassland as far as the eye can see, it would be easy to just keep on driving. Yet those willing to take the scenic route will be rewarded with one of the more incredible (almost paranormal) phenomenons in the U.S.- the Badlands.

Home to one of the richest fossil beds on the planet, it doesn’t take much effort to imagine dinosaurs roaming across this prehistoric landscape. The barren, windswept shapes were formed by tiny grains of sediment cementing together into sedentary rocks over millennia. Striated colors add a haunting beauty to the surroundings with hues of pink, orange, and grey as far as the eye can see.

We drove through the Badlands on our way to the Black Hills in late September. The autumn light gave everything a warm orange glow. My brother and I both had cameras in hand and got off the beaten path a few times to capture unusual shots.

Much like Joshua Tree or Craters of the Moon the Badlands are one of those unique landscapes that will tug at your imagination and make you very glad that you decided to take the scenic route.

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