Makoshika State Park is Montana’s largest state park, preserving over 11,500 acres of badlands, hoodoos, caprocks, and fluted hillsides as shown above.
We were surprised to see badlands in Montana. But we discovered that eastern Montana is mostly dry desert with lots of sagebrush. Central Montana is pretty, green rolling hills and farms with mountains in the distance. And western Montana is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, dubbed “Little Switzerland” in the Glacier National Park area. In this photo, Theresa and Shadow hike toward a small cave in the heavily eroded sandstone.
The dogs do really well on our hikes and could easily outlast us, except when it gets hot like today. But I’d start dragging behind too if I was wearing a fur coat in 85-degree weather. When it gets hot like this, Darby seeks any shade she can find and plops down for a little rest. She really enjoyed this cool, dark cave.
Makoshika (Ma-KOE-shee-kah) means “land of bad spirits” or “badlands” in Lakota Sioux language.
Over 10 species of dinosaurs have been found in Makoshika, including the Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex. There were a few sites of dinosaur bones but honestly we couldn’t distinguish them from the other rock. In this photo you can see a black layer of lignite, which is a poor-burning version of coal.
This park was full of many surprises, including this natural bridge in an area not known for rock bridges.
The badlands in Makoshika expose rock that’s older than the badlands in the Dakotas. The Yellowstone River and its tributaries cut into this rock, and water and wind erosion formed the odd shapes.
Notice all the capstones and the big balanced rock on the left.
There were three hikes in the park, and the guidebook that we had mixed them up. This final hike through the caprocks and hoodoos was listed as the shortest hike in the guidebook, so we didn’t bring our lunch and drinks. It turned out to be the longest hike through a hot canyon which required a steep climb out, so we were quite thirsty and hungry by the end. But the rock shapes were incredible.
When we finally hiked to the top of the canyon, we stopped on the ridge for a well-deserved lunch break.
The badlands expose billions of years of layer upon layer of sediment.
Shadow loves living on the edge.