Badlands National Park By Tom Stanley

As is the case with several of our other ventures into national parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite), at the outset of our planning, we failed to consider the true value and significance of visiting this uncontrollable wilderness in South Dakota.
Then I got a hold of the photos you're seeing, all of which are shots by Joe Jansen, our favorite amateur photographer out of Jersey. These shots came along with an assortment of others from Joe's time on the road in his recently purchased RV, which has sent him hurtling across numerous different directions of America. Of all the photos I perused through, the Badlands jumped out at me somewhat, showing me scenes that I didn't think could be found in the United States in this day and age.

The name "Badlands" comes from the former Native American inhabitants of these parts, and aptly so. Good luck trying to grow anything besides for rocks in the scene at right. Luckily for us, the unique geology of the area has also kept the Badlands off the radar for any potential developer of land. As I've grown up and watched piece after piece of land around me become swallowed up by housing complexes, corporate offices and golf courses, I will embrace the starkness, the nakedness, the utter purity of this magical stretch of Earth.

Following a five-day furlough in the woods of Detroit Lakes, Minn., our travel time to this next destination is a whopping eight hours. Even with a 6 a.m. start, devoting merely one day to the Badlands would be, I think., inadequate. So after a small amount of prodding and prying, I convinced Joey and Sarah of the dire necessity for an extra day here. Sorry, Sioux Falls.
But this is for our own mental health and well-being. After the music festival in our prior stop offers us a litany of characters from all walks of life, it will be quietly fulfilling to retire to the 
real wilderness, to make some real discoveries of our own.
Here's how we'll get acquainted with this terrifically unfamiliar territory.

-Badlands Loop Scenic Drive (at right)

-Sage Creek Wilderness Area

-Notch Trail

-Saddle Pass Trail

-Wall Drug

(From top) Photo by Joe Jansen; photo by Joe Jansen; photo by Joe Jansen; photo by Jvstin courtesy