Monday, October 8, 2018

Touring the Black Hills: Badlands National Park

Jan here, with a trip that might challenge your idea of beauty.

I've done a few of these "touring the Black Hills" posts this year, and I saved the Badlands for now for a reason.

Because I think fall and winter are the best times to visit this unique place.

Photos don't do justice to the beauty.

The first reason why I like the Badlands in the off-season is the light. We're far enough north that the sun sits low on the horizon during the winter months.

The southern horizon in February.

That gives us a lot of shadows and colors we don't see during the summer months.

The second reason? Look at these pictures - do you see any people? Cars? When we visit in the winter months, the park rangers at the visitor's center are often the only other people we see. It's quite different in the summer months.

Which brings me to my third reason - We see a LOT more wildlife when we're the only humans for miles.

A young Bighorn ewe. 

We even saw a Golden Eagle one time, up close and personal, flying along the road just ahead of our car. He looked at us like he wondered why we were in his park.

Much like this guy.

But my favorite reason to visit the park in the fall and winter?

It's hard to imagine, but listen. Right now. What do you hear? Sounds that are beneath your consciousness because you hear them all the time.

A refrigerator running? Traffic on the road outside? The neighbor's radio being played a little too loud? Another neighbor's dog barking? Even your computer emits a slight hum.

But on a winter day in the Badlands, miles from the nearest highway, miles away from any other people, with only the blue sky above...there is silence. Silence like few people ever hear.

That is a sound so refreshing that when I'm not there, I crave it.

Have you ever visited Badlands National Park? Would you want to see it in the winter?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Jan, the Badlands challenged my idea of beauty every time I went there. But there's beauty in the ruggedness. Not so much in the three whiners in the backseat who keep asking when we're going home, though. Okay, only two, because the youngest was only a year old when we left Rapid City. For me, the Badlands always evoked images of the old westerns my parents used to watch. Death Valley Days and many others. Lots of memories there.

    1. My first trip to the Badlands was when I was ten or eleven. I remember being fascinated by them for the very reason you mentioned. I was (and still am!) a big fan of westerns, and I remember staring out the window during our brief tour, imagining cowboys and wagon trains.

      Now I know real cowboys who ranch in the badlands (outside of the park), and my imaginings weren't far off base!

  2. Jan, you just made me crave that silence! Thank you for sharing. The journey though the photos was really relaxing for me. I could just sense the peace.

    1. It is very peaceful if you go during the off-season or take time to get off the beaten path. The wide open spaces are amazing!

  3. Oh, Jan. You have me craving that silence. Needless to say, I don't get it here in the middle of the city, but there is the occasional moment when the city feels at least hushed.

    1. And I'm laughing because I really didn't see Missy's comment before I typed mine.