Truck Routes: Badlands

Did you know that the two largest T. Rex dinosaur skeletons ever discovered were found in South Dakota? The area is rich in natural history and geological wonders that existed long before trappers, miners and homesteaders came.

If you head east from the Black Hills on Highway 36 to 79 to Interstate 90, after 50 miles of prairie you’ll reach Badlands National Park. The 244,000 acres of the South Dakota Badlands were named by French trappers who referred to them as “bad lands to cross.” Indeed, the gullies, rough cliffs and canyons of this otherworldly landscape would be difficult to cross by foot or horse. Today, driving routes offer access to sites like Pinnacles overlook with breathtaking panoramic views of weathered cliffs that stretch to the horizon.

Thirty-seven million years ago, the crystalline core of what we know today as the Black Hills were exposed by erosion. Streams from the west deposited sediments of volcanic ash, which weathered into clay, then rock. About 500,000 years ago, erosion started to form the Badlands into its present stunning landscape.

Burns Basin Overlook, White Rock Overlook, and Norbeck Pass also offering dizzying vistas. US-16 has many twists and turns, but Norbeck Overlook offers an excellent view of Mount Rushmore. While the drivers at Quick Transfer USA stick to direct routes, Rapid City, South Dakota’s second biggest city, offers the opportunity for tourists to take a side-trip on Skyline Drive. Follow it for spectacular views of Rapid City, the Black Hills and the Badlands.

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