As I was leaving the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, my GPS was displaying two options for traveling west - a direct route and a scenic route.
Little did I know that the scenic route would take me through the Badlands National Park .
The Badlands National Park covers 242,756 acres (98,240 ha) of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, spires and grasslands.
The formations were deposited in layers.
The layers were composed of sediments such as sand, silt, and clay that have been cemented together into sedimentary rocks.
Once the Black Hills streams and rivers were captured, erosion dominated over deposition.
Erosion began in the Badlands about 500,000 years ago when the Cheyenne River captured streams and rivers flowing from the Black Hills into the Badlands region. Modern rivers cut down through the rock layers, carving fantastic shapes into what had once been a flat floodplain.
The Badlands erode at the rapid rate of about one inch per year. Evidence suggests that they will erode completely away in another 500,000 years, giving them a life span of just one million years. Not a long period of time from a geologic perspective.
The mixed-grass prairie contains both ankle-high and waist-high grasses, and fills a transitional zone between the moister tall-grass prairie to the east and the more arid short-grass prairie to the west.
The native grasses of the mixed-grass prairie serve as important food sources for many species of wildlife, from prairie dogs to bison to bighorn sheep.
This little lamb wasn't interested in grazing, he just wanted to have his photo taken.
Outside the box