The otherworldly landscape of Badlands National Park, oddly softened by its fantastic rainbow hues, is a spectacle of sheer walls and spikes stabbing the dry air. It was understandably named makosica (badland) by Native Americans. Looking over the bizarre formations from the corrugated walls surrounding the park is like seeing an ocean someone boiled dry.
The north unit of the park is easily viewed on a half-day drive for those in a rush, though there are a number of short hiking trails that can get you right out into this earthen wonderland, including the surreal Door Trail near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. The less-accessible south units are in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and see few visitors. Bisecting the two is Hwy 44, which makes a scenic alternative between the Badlands and Rapid City.