Parque Natural Mexiquillo


Badlands National Park

 The park protects 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles, along with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States.  For 11,000 years, Native Americans have used this area for their hunting grounds. Archaeological records combined with oral traditions indicate that these people camped in secluded valleys where fresh water and game were available year-round.

What a great view to wake up to

The land erodes at the rate of  1 inch per year

Ben Reifel Visitor Center has dioramas depicting the past biomes in the park

A summer afternoon 40 million years ago
A large Brontotheres on the right.

Hesperocyon a direct ancestor to today's dog families

Hyaenodon is an extinct carnivorous mammal 

Archaotherium was a large piglike animal 
that hunted small animals and also ate plant matter

Depiction of Archaotherium

 Mesohippus is an extinct genus of early horse. 
It lived 37 to 32 million years ago in the Early Oligocene

In the fossil prep lab you can watch them carve 
the matrix that hides the fossil bone

You can watch a magnification of this process on a large screen TV

A Broontotheres skull. 
They are ancestors to todays horses, rhinoceroses, and tapirs.
They could measure 8 feet tall and 16 feet long

Erosion reveals the colorful hills

Some very shy Pronghorn Antelope 

There was herd of more than a 100 bison

There many very large Prairie dogs colonies

Later at the Stage Creek campground, 
7 bison wandered through. 



Iowa State Capital

The "Iowa Statehouse" was constructed in the 1870s
The gold dome is 250,000 sheets of 23 karat gold. 
It needs to be refurbished every 30 years of so.
I was last redone in 1999

A little more detail of the beautiful capital building

The grand stair case

Westward, the mural by Edwin Blashfield depicting the migration
of early pioneers traveling through Iowa 

Looking up, a feast for the eyes

Looking up into the dome

From a distance it looks like a printed mural

Upon closer inspection...

it is a mosaic of colored glass pieces....

about the size of your finger nail
They are pieces of Milano glass from Italy

A very detailed model of the USS Iowa battleship

Our tour guide was fantastic

Checking out the carved panels on the supreme court's bench

More incredible architecture. 
Our guide told us there is more gold inside the capital than on the dome.

The stunning law library

The house chamber.
It were destroyed in a 1904 fire and recreated to match the original

There are incredible chandeliers through out the building

The senate chamber with original furnishings.
It was not touched in the 1904 fire.

Climbing 200 plus steps into the dome

It is the most beautiful state building I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.