The badlands are composed of water-deposited layers of volcanic ash, interbedded with thin layers of shale, sandstone, and river gravel. The alteration of the ash has converted it into a claylike substance that is called bentonite.Hard and strong when dry, bentonite will, however, absorb water like a sponge and with enough moisture will disintegrate into a fine flowing mud. Thus it is that in this semiarid region, with its long dry season and its torrential summer rains, the bentonitic beds are rapidly cut into turreted ridges, conical hills, and small steep-walled canyons and ravines.
The United States is one of the most diverse countries on earth, jam packed full of amazing sights from St. Patrick's cathedral in New York to Mount Hollywood California.The Northeast region is where it all started. Thirteen British colonies fought the American Revolution from here and won their independence in the first successful colonial rebellion in history. Take a look at these rolling hills carpeted with foliage along the Hudson river here, north of New York City.The American south is known for its polite people and slow pace of life. Probably they move slowly because it's so hot. Southerners tend not to trust people from "up north" because they talk too fast. Here's a cemetery in Georgia where you can find graves of soldiers from the Civil War.The West Coast is sort of like another country that exists to make the east coast jealous. California is full of nothing but grizzly old miners digging for gold, a few gangster rappers, and then actors. That is to say, the West Coast functions as the imagination of the US, like a weird little brother who teases everybody then gets famous for making freaky art.The central part of the country is flat farmland all the way over to the Rocky Mountains. Up in the northwest corner you can find creative people in places like Portland and Seattle, along with awesome snowboarding and good beer. Text by Steve Smith.