Badlands

Walk Two Moons Smore By: Alexa Siddons

Badlands

In Walk Two Moons, Sal, Gram, and Gramps visit the Badlands National Park, North Dakota. Is it really bad land? It's much more than that! The national park is 242, 756 acres, and 64,144 of those acres are designated wilderness land. The badlands are made up entirely of buttes, pinnacles, spires, and prairie grass. It is an interesting park that we should all try to visit at some point. Here is more information about the Badlands.

History of the Badlands

Geology

The Badlands started as flatter hills and valleys and was always very dry. What developed later as pinnacles and spires was caused by volcanic ash deposits and accumulation of materials overtime. The constant wind, weathering, erosion, and deposition also created the various dips and ridges of the park today. The formations were made from various sediments like sand and clay to create compact sedimentary rock. Rivers and streams flowing through the Black Hills to the Badlands region created erosion. These waters carried sediments and deposited them in various places. History like fossils and types of sedimentary rock show that there could have been many different ecosystems throughout its history.

Settlers and Homesteaders

White settlement was slow in the Badlands and started with cattlemen and sheep-men. The white Settlement of the Badlands started in the 1890's. Soon enough more settlers and livestock slowly entered the Badlands as time went on. Soon Native American Tribes were forced into reservations by the government because of the need for settlers to have more land. Soon almost half the land of Badlands National Park was publicly owned.

Paleontologists

75 million years ago water covered the Badlands. Many fossilized creatures have been found in the park after sinking to the bottom of the sea after death. Some found were clams, crabs, snails, giant sea turtles, shells, mosasaurs, peterosaurs, and Hesperonis. From 1988- 2008 National Park service and SDSMT, have 15 field summer sessions at Pig Wallow Site. From June- August paleontology students worked on this excavation. It was named the Pig Dig after the first found fossil that was first thought was an ancient pig. It was later found as a hornless Rhinoceros. 17 other species and fossils have been found at this specific sight, and many more have been found in the park alone. Many more Paleontologists work at the Badlands constantly working to find new discoveries.

Association with Native Americans

The Badlands is co managed with the Indian tribes of Oglala Lakota tribe, Paleo Indians, Arikura people, and the Sioux Nation. These tribes have used the Badlands for many years as hunting grounds, bison, rabbits, and other game, camping area, fresh water resources, and used the top of Badlands as a wall to scan for enemies and herds. All was well for the Indians until clashing with the government and settlers on December 29, 1980. The Indians had been moved to government reservations to add more land for settlements. The army's 7th Calvary surrounded a band of ghost dancers under Indian chief Big Foot at wounded knee creek, and demanded weapons to be discarded. One fight broke out between an Indian and U.S Soldier an a shot was fired. Unknowing whether it was from each side this incident broke out into a massacre. After this avoidable event 300 Native Americans and 30 soldiers died that day. It's an important part of the Badlands history even though it is technically no longer in the park's boundaries.

Modern day? What can I do if I go now?

Climate/Weather

In the Badlands there are hot, dry summers with freak, violent thunderstorms, and Winter with 12-24 inches of snowfall. High winds and constant weather changes are common for the Badlands region. Average temperatures in Winter can vary from 6-49 degrees. In Spring temperatures go from 33-81 degrees. In Summer average temperature varies from 57-90 degrees, and Fall 9-63 degrees. If you are planning a trip to the Badlands check which season you want to go first. Also make sure to bring a wide variety of clothes!

Activities and Events

There are two campgrounds Seder Pass and Sage Creek. At these campgrounds you can observe nature and wildlife, or simply view the sunrise and sunset. There are campground stoves and picnic areas but campfires are not permitted. These campgrounds are great for overnight visits. If you are not a camper there are also lodging and hotel options nearby. Another good option for both campers and non-campers is stargazing. There are telescopes provided around the park and there are also guided stargazing viewings. Summer night sky viewing is available at the Cedar Pass amphitheater from Friday to Monday. Maybe your adventurous! Try the Badlands GPS Adventure. It's an earth/geocaching adventure around the park. This GPS will lead you around the park to different natural features, trails, wayside exhibits, and artifacts. It is important to leave artifacts, flowers, fossils, and natural items where they were found. Hike designated hiking trails around the park with a guide or on your own. Another option is to visit the Fossil Prep Lab. At this lab you can watch Paleontologists work, and do activities to learn how discoveries are made. Go biking on the trails, it's allowed! Whether you are an outdoors man or not there is something in the Badlands that's for everyone.

Fascinating Facts

  • Largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States.
  • Home of the Black Footed Ferret the most endangered mammal.
  • Created on November 10, 1978
  • Worlds richest deposits of mammal fossil beds.
  • Average of one inch of erosion a year.
  • 90% native vegetation
  • Habitat destruction is greatest threat to the Badlands.
  • Some parts of the Badlands are petrified forests.
Big image