Take I 94 West to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt NP. Heavy rain on the way but clears to a nice day 75 degrees.
Enter at Painted Canyon Visitor Center, Overlook of the upper margin of the badlands and a panorama of the topography is colorful---maybe later, it's misting and overcast.
On to 2nd entrance off I 94, Medora. We take the 36 mile Scenic Loop Drive, stop at some overlooks and walk the Coal Vein Trail.
The trail took us thru an area noted for a fire that burned from 1951-77 in a coal vein. This is pretty common in the badlands area. While it was burning, many times it was visible by visitors. The intense heat baked the adjacent clay and sand, greatly altering the appearance of the terrain and disturbing the vegetation. The baked clay, called clinker, is bricklike, and bright red from iron oxide Also on the trail is a substance called Bentonite. It is formed from ancient volcanic ash transformed into a grayish-blue clay. It can absorb several times its volume in water and become very slippery when wet. It is used in over 1,000 products including candy bars, milkshakes and toothpaste. It stuck to our shoes terribly.
Saw a Bison crossing the road and drinking from a puddle on the side of the road on our drive. Amazing to be about 15 feet from such an animal. (In our car, of course).
By the afternoon, the weather had cleared and we revisited Painted Canyon on the way home. Sunday we will travel to Billings, MT for laundry and groceries before going to Yellowstone NP on Monday for 4 days. Probably no blog entries until we leave Yellowstone.