In the prairie of Southwest Dakota, red fortress walls and sandy castle spires protrude from the grassy plains. The loosely packed sediment exposes the many layers of natural history, each stripe and color representing a distinct time period.
The black shale is the last remains of a time when the Dakotas were submerged in water, a swamp– rich with the remains of long-deceased sea life. As the land rose and water subsided, the muddy floor fossilized, giving the Yellow Mounds their distinct sulfuric hue. Millions of years of sediment continued to build and erode from wind and water, giving way to the crimson-striped plateaus and buttes that grace the plains.
Naturally, this was an ideal location for parkour, the gymnastic art of traveling from point A to B in an imaginative way. For professionals this includes flips, martial arts, and daring wall jumps. For us it includes hopping, stumbling, and shouting “National Parkour!”
Climbing and exploring the formations are encouraged, which is especially surprising since the sandy clay rocks easily deteriorate and slip beneath your feet. Just ask Regan’s ass.
This was a welcome change from some of the other parks we’ve visited, as it turns a rather flat hike into an obstacle course ripe for conquering. For the less adventurous, the Badlands have a road winding through the various erections with ample scenic overlooks to take them all in.
Penis jokes aside, the Badlands have earned a spot as one of my personal favorite parks, and are hereby the starting point of our National Parkour Tour.