Driving south along Interstate 29 from Emerson MB through North Dakota and then, sigh, South Dakota, is like driving through Wyoming along Interstate 80: the less said, the better.
But, like Wyoming, there is more to South Dakota than what can be seen from one unfortunate stretch of Interstate, and it starts with crossing the Missouri River (water! bridges!), about two hours after turning west on Interstate 90.
The land – heretofore as flat as southern Wyoming in a pan – transforms into rolling hills, a promise of what is to come. And the first of what comes, tackling this from the East, is the Badlands.
Now, I get why someone trying to cross this unforgiving country on foot, or even on horse, might call it “bad land,” but in an air-conditioned SUV with ample bottled water, other adjectives come to mind.
I’m not the first to be impressed with the aesthetics of the Badlands, of course.
“Let sculptors come to the Badlands.
Let painters come.
But first of all, the true architect should come.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
Quoted in the “Oh, Ranger!” park guide
for the Black Hills, Badlands & Mount Rushmore
Just one thing: Come to the Badlands from the East. Trust me, you do not want to drive that Interstate in the other direction.
Interested in Frank Lloyd Wright? Check out this Artsy site which provides a bio and showcases his work (among others).