Video: Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is one of the more overlooked destinations in the entire American park system. Located in South Dakota, the park features otherworldly landscape where you would expect to spot NASA’s Curiosity Rover. Instead, sharp-eyed visitors will catch a glimpse of a surprisingly diverse amount of wildlife, including bison, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep and the elusive black-footed ferret.

The video below captures just a hint of the beauty that you’ll find in the park, which is punctuated with interesting displays of light and shadows. If you haven’t ever been to the Badlands, I highly recommend it.

Badlands National Park” from Matt Brass on Vimeo.

America’s baddest badlands

One of the greatest things about the United States is its environmental diversity. From towering forests of pine to sun-hammered deserts, from snowy peaks to steaming swamps, this nation has it all.

Some of the most compelling places are also the harshest. Take this view of the sand dunes of Death Valley, taken by talented photographer John Bruckman. This is the worst part of the Mojave Desert–lower, hotter, and drier than any other spot in the country, yet it has a subtle beauty this image captures so well. With the majority of us living in cities or suburbs, these open, empty spaces call out to us.

They certainly do to me. When I moved from the leafy upstate New York to southern Arizona for university, I discovered what people really mean when they talk about America’s wide open spaces. They set you free, and they can kill you if you’re not prepared, yet somehow their deadliness only adds to the feeling of freedom.

America’s badlands remind us that life can cling to even the bleakest of landscapes, that the empty places can sometimes be those most worth visiting.


Photo of the day (11.12.10)

As a kid, I listened to my grandparents talk about the desolate beauty of the Badlands. The place with the simple, slightly confusing name had to be beautiful and special, I reasoned with myself, or its name wouldn’t provoke such wistful reverence on the part of the Robertsons of Boulder Creek. Flash forward a bunch of years, and despite having visited many countries and 48 states, I still haven’t made it to the Badlands. When I look at images like this one, by JasonBechtel, I wonder what the holdup is.

Got a photo of an American treasure popular with your grandparents? Submit it to the Gadling Flickr pool and we might just choose it as our Photo of the Day.

Photo of the Day (8.10.10)

Badlands National Park; if the name alone doesn’t inspire you to visit, then perhaps this frame from photographer Theodore Scott will.

Inspired to get out and travel immediately after completing his college courses, Scott chose to skip his own graduation for a weeklong tour of the park. His takeaway? “..I crawled out of my tent most mornings to see bison scattered around the landscape. It was worth missing my graduation.”

Badlands is one of more than 100 national parks that will be opening their gates to the public free of charge this weekend, August 14-15. So what are you waiting for? Summer is almost over! Get out there, take pictures, and submit them to our Flickr Pool to be considered as our next Photo of the Day.

Winter fun in the Black Hills of South Dakota

The blizzard that blew through the Midwest last week may have disrupted travel for the holidays, but it was just what outdoor enthusiasts were looking for in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Snow had been quite sparse up until the blizzard hit, but some areas received as much as four feet of the white stuff, making the area the perfect winter playground for skiers and snowmobilers.

Awhile back we mentioned all of the great outdoor adventure activities that South Dakota has to offer in the summer months, with plenty of great hiking, mountain biking, paddling, and climbing throughout the Badlands and Black Hills. During the winter, those activities switch to skiing, both down hill and cross country, snowboarding, dog sledding, snow shoeing, and snowmobiling.

Travelers looking to make a winter escape will want to head to the Rapid City area, which serves as a gateway to this outdoor wonderland. Nearby Mystic Miner and Terry Peak ski resorts both received over 45 inches of fresh snow in last week’s blizzard, and are an easy drive from the city. These resorts offer excellent skiing opportunities without the crowds found in some of the larger resorts in nearby Colorado.

Likewise, historic Deadwood is a popular destination that offers access to groomed trails that are perfect to explore on foot or by snow mobile. And when travelers are done playing outside, they can head back to town to enjoy wild west fun and themed casinos.

From Mt. Rushmore to the Crazy Horse Monument, you’ll find plenty of outdoor adventure throughout the Badlands and Black Hills no matter what time of year you visit, but those who enjoy winter activities, will find plenty to enjoy eary in the new year.