On a sunny day in May, we set out for the Badlands of North Dakota.
That's not a typo. We had already seen the spectacular panoramas of South Dakota. Now we headed up Highway 85 to the lesser known Badlands, a desolate landscape of canyons, domes and buttes, eroded by wind and water, that spreads out from the Little Missouri River.
We crossed into North Dakota, passing gentle hills and immature fields of grain. To the west was the Little Missouri National Grassland (www.fs.fed.us/r1/dakotaprairie), more than a million acres of prairie. To the east was the trail followed by Lewis and Clark (http://lewisandclarktrail.com). To the north was our goal: the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (www.nps.gov/thro) sections of the Grassland, where the 26th president ranched and where today, several hundred bison roam.
We stopped for lunch in Bowman, a town of fewer than 2,000 residents. Here at Pioneer Trails Regional Museum (www.ptrm.org), amateurs can join paleontology digs, searching the sandy Badlands for fossils, from tiny fish bones to Tyrannosaurus Rex. But joining a dig was too ambitious a venture for this trip, where we just wanted to see enough of North Dakota to say we'd been there and maybe catch sight of a few bison. And so we kept going.
Even that plan proved too ambitious though, and we didn't make it as far as Teddy Roosevelt's park. But we had learned why North Dakota, the least-visited state in the United States, deserves more than passing notice. Some day I'll go back and dig for dinosaur bones.
This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states.