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Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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Badland National Park

The name is “Mako Sica,” which means “land bad.” This Badland National Park is located in the southwestern part of South Dakota. This National Park consists of approximately 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires which are being blended with the protected mixed-grass prairie in the United States. This site is desolation at its best, with bare eyes, one cannot find any sort of civilization in this area. and see no sign of civilization.

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The land is being ruthlessly ravaged by wind and by water, thus it became picturesque. The Badlands quenches the thirst of wonderland of the bizarre, the colourful spires and pinnacles, with its massive buttes and deep gorges add more to the beauty.

The erosion of these Badlands has revealed layers of sedimentary rocks of different colours, ranging from purple and yellow to tan and grey. The colours red and orange (which is because of the iron oxides) and white (for the volcanic ash) sparks natural beauty in this Badland National Park.


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Badlands are actually a type of drier terrain where there are softer sedimentary rocks. The softer sedimentary rocks are also coupled with clay-rich soils which have extensively faced erosion by the wind and water. Badlands are being characterized by steep slopes, with a lack of vegetation. Features common in Badlands are – Canyons, gullies, ravines, buttes, hoodoos and other geological forms which are quite common in these areas. These features are often difficult to identify and navigate by foot. Generally, Badlands have a spectacular colour to display. The colour ranges from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria.   

Inquisitive enough, how did these remarkable features get their origin? By the process of deposition and erosion, Badlands are being formed naturally. The process of deposition marks the accumulation, over the time period, of the layers of mineral in the material. Different environments like seas, rivers, or tropical zones, deposit varied sorts of clays, silts, and sand. For example, the Badlands formations in the Badlands National Park in South Dakota have undergone a 47-million-year period of deposition, they have spanned three major geologic periods that is the – Cretaceous Period, Late Eocene and the Oligocene Period. This resulted in the clear, distinct layers of sediment being served as a dramatic display.  

Borrego Badlands

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These Badlands measure twenty miles wide by another fifteen miles long, into the stark, arid landscape of the Borrego Badlands which stretched across the portion of the enormous Anza-Borrego State Park, located in California’s south-eastern corner. During the sunset and sunrise, the Badlands’ creased and wrinkled ridge structures cast bold shadows which stretches across a maze of the golden hills and the sand-coloured arroyos. Originally the whole view was shaped by water. The fossilized seashells were found in the region, this proves that it was once being submerged under the blend of salty tropical waters which is from the Gulf of California and the freshwater from the Colorado River. 

To enjoy the best view, the best places to get a look at these Badlands’ surreal scenes is from Font’s Point, which is commonly known as California’s Grand Canyon. This point is a popular spot for photographers, especially at the time of sunset or during full-moon nights.

Paria Badlands

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The location of Paria Badlands is between Kanab, Utah and Page, which is in Arizona. This takes about an hour or so to fully see the view. They serve as an excellent side trip while heading towards or from any hikes.  

While there is no hiking trail at the Paria Badlands. The structure is a way to wind down from some other hikes in the surrounding areas. Here no hiking is required. The views enjoyed here are pretty impressive and there are scenic views from a couple of steps outside your car. 

How do We Get There?

From Kanab, Utah, you need to take US-89 east, after driving approximately 32.5 miles. There will be a sign which will read “Old Pahreah Townsite.” After which turn left into the large, round gravel parking area, here you will see some plaques and other large stone landmarks. If coming from the Page, Arizona, then take US-89, then drive for 40.5 miles. Here, you will see a sign for “Old Pahreah Townsite.” Then turn right here into this gravel parking area where you will find the plaques and landmarks. 

They basically talk about the history of the area. After you read the plaques head north on the dirt road for about 4.8 miles, then you will come to the best spot for pictures in the Paria Badlands. This same road will eventually then lead you to the Old Paria cemetery which consists of about 20 graves. Near this cemetery area and the parking area, on the south side of the Paria River, there was the old movie set where many several films were being shot from the 1940s through the 1970s. 

FAQs on Badlands

1. Why are the Terrains known as ‘Badlands’?

Ans. The people of Lakota name this region as “mako sica,” or the “badlands'' because in the past the rocky terrain, with the lack of water and extreme temperature, the terrain was extremely difficult to traverse. But today, these Badlands are quite a great place for hiking, for fossil hunting, and also for taking a scenic drive and spotting wildlife.

2. Are Badlands Dangerous?

Ans. It is quite easy to explore, the Badlands located in South Dakota are deceptively dangerous. Most of the visitors do respect the relative instability of the highest pinnacles in the park, while the lower and more accessible and sod tables and buttes can be quite hazardous. The remaining trails are designated areas.

3. Are Badlands Desert?

Ans. Badlands isn’t deserted but they are drier regions with softer sedimentary rocks having clay-rich soils which are being extensively eroded by the wind and water. They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, and have a lack of a substantial regolith, also they have high drainage density.