Rock formations in Badlands National Park during a lightning storm, South Dakota
© DEEPOL by plainpictur
Happy birthday, Badlands National Park. Badlands National Park turns 44
Forty-four years ago today, a rugged, inhospitable area of South Dakota was designated a national park to protect the many fossils found there. The region has a 12,000-year history as hunting grounds for Native Americans. In fact, the name we know it by today, Badlands, comes from the Lakota phrase 'mako sica,' which literally translates to 'bad lands.' Covering nearly 380 square miles, its harshly eroded rock formations make it one of the most distinct landscapes in the United States.
And it's still forming! The National Park Service says the Badlands erode about an inch every year, which is awfully fast as erosion goes. Scientists estimate that within the next half million years, the Badlands will have eroded away completely. Might want to start planning your visit soon.