The Badlands are quite beautiful in a vast, unpopulated sort of way. Whilst Montana holds its own as the ‘Big Sky’ state, I feel both North and South Dakota are its twin, as combined they have a ‘Bigger Sky’, albeit divided by their North & South state line. This is a part of the world where night-out or a visit round the corner to the local store, equates to 10’s of 100+ mile drives through vast tracts of prairie, dipping in and out of Badlands. The gentle curved landscape is punctuated by stubborn buttes raising their backs above the prairie, often displaying the interbedded muds and sands that signify a potential trip to Hell……Creek.
Its hard to describe the distances you can travel off-road, before seeing any evidence of human habitation…bar the odd ranchers fence and dirt track…that often becomes a river bed. The 77,121 square miles of South Dakota could fit England and Wales inside with room to spare, but with a total population of no more than Derbyshire (~800,000)….but the latter has a mere 1,000 square miles to squeeze folks in…but is still seen as the quintessential unpopulated English countryside. When South Dakota is compared to Manhattan Island with its 22.9 square miles hosting 1.6 million folks, suddenly city living seems very claustrophobic… New Yorkers live in the land of the ‘Slot Sky’, pinched between skyscrapers…or it is just a thick neon veneer on a new skyscraper?