The Badlands.

The name insinuates their ruggedness, but this unique section of Dakota prairieland needs to be seen to be believed.

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The Painted Desert in North Dakota’s Badlands

I was vaguely familiar with their location on a U.S. map, but they weren’t, for some reason, on my route map.

However, when I found myself driving right through them on my way through North Dakota’s long stretch of prairie land as I was headed toward Glacier National Park in Montana, they got added to the route map.

I’d heard of The Badlands, of course, but I’d never heard of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There is a Badlands National Park, as well, but it is in South Dakota.

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Buffalo roam free in the Badlands

The North Dakota Badlands are equally badass, I’d say, but are named for Roosevelt, who first set foot in the area as a young man visiting the Dakota Territory to hunt buffalo in 1883

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”  Theodore Roosevelt

His time in the Badlands sparked a lifetime of conservation efforts, and during his presidency he oversaw the preservation of around 230 million acres of public land and was hugely involved with expanding the National Park System.

The Badlands are a wild habitat where bison, horses, elk, pronghorn, and deer roam freely, and the lively chorus of prairie dogs is caught up on the ragged winds.

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Jagged peaks, colorful desert, and extreme temperatures make up North Dakota’s Badlands

With its colorful Painted Desert and rugged, claw-like peaks jutting up toward the sky, the area earned it’s name — the Badlands — from its rough terrain, extreme temperatures, and lack of water.

I only spent a day in the Badlands, but it would be easy to wander its wilderness for many more than that.

The wildlife in the park was one of my favorite parts — it’s not everyday that a buffalo decides to walk up to your car window!

If you’re ever driving through North Dakota, hopefully you’ll unexpectedly look up and find yourself in the Badlands, like I did!

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A curious prairie dog in the Badlands

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The Painted Desert

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Wild horses roam free in the Badlands

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Autumn in the Badlands