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Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is one of the most underrated parks in North America, covering over 240,000 acres of land, 64,000 of which are protected as a designated wilderness area. The park is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including the American Bison, Black-Footed Ferrets (an endangered species in North America), and Big Horn Sheep. Native Americans who inhabited the area gave the park its name, as they described the land using this adjective due to the extreme temperatures, drought, and tough land. The Badlands and its highly recognizable scenery with incredible rocky formations of steep buttes and pinnacles became a National Park in 1978.

Badlands National Park in South Dakota offers a magnificent unique landscape featuring eroded layered spires and buttes, acres of the wilderness area, different species of mammals, some of which facing extinction, and fossils dating back thousands of years. It’s hard to believe that this massive park was once submerged underwater.

Enter The Door Trail

Badlands is often referred to as “The Wall” since the buttes form a continuous line dividing the area like a wall. So the word door is used very loosely in this scenario, as it is simply an opening in between the Badlands Buttes. The Door Trail starts a short walk away from the parking lot which is shared between the Door trail, the Window trail, and Notch trail. The easy 1.3km (round trip) in and out trail starts on a boardwalk leading down to rocky scorched ground. The trail is marked by a series of 11 signs leading to a stunning viewpoint of the Badlands and the surrounding canyons and pinnacles with sharp drops. Regardless of being an easy hike, with the terrain being rocky and bumpy it is not recommended for visitors with limited mobility.

Badlands Loop Scenic Byway

The Badlands Loop Scenic Byway is a 39 mile looped two-lane highway heading from the town of Cactus Flat to The Wall. Along the way. you can appreciate the eroded layered rock formations. The scenery changes between grassland featuring different species of plants and wildlife and rocky cliffs. There are multiple scenic stop opportunities including the Pinnacles Overlook and Yellow Mounds Overlook with outstanding views of the Badlands wilderness area. With the road winding around the scenery, the Badlands Byway makes a pleasant drive, especially for acceleration triggered drivers. There are also 8 hiking trails to consider and make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife including deer, buffalo, ferrets, prairie dogs, and birds.

Fossil Exhibit Trailhead

Set in a spectacular location surrounded by spires and buttes, the Fossil Exhibit Trailhead is a short 0.2-mile trail, taking a look at some of the Badlands inhabitants of the past 75 million years. Along the trail, visitors can touch fossil replicas of animals such as titanothere, ammonite, alligators, and horses which lived in the area and got fossilized in the sediments. The trail is fully accessible via a boardwalk and it can get busy. From the fossil findings, geologists discovered that the Badlands were once submerged underwater, and over the years the water evaporated forming the eroded, colorful layered rock formations we know today.

While the park is open all year round, visiting in fall or spring is ideal, as summer and winter offer extreme temperatures. Entering Badlands National Park requires a seven-day pass at $25 per car. It is a good idea to carry refreshments with you since Cedar Pass Lodge is the only location where food is served. The park has ample picnic area possibilities and two official campsites. The Cedar Pass Campground with 96 sites, which can be reserved at $25 per night, and the Sage Creek Campground a 22 site free campground is available on a first come and first serve basis. Alternatively, visitors can opt for a more rugged backcountry camping, which can happen anywhere in the park as long as it is 0.5 miles from the road and is not visible from the trail.

For visitors interested in learning more about the origins of the park, the Ben Reifel Visitor Center is a good place to start. The park also offers multiple trails and beautiful scenery such as the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail – a steep 0.5-mile trail, leading to 300 feet elevation offering views of White River Valley, and the peak of Eagle Butte. Similarly, Sheep Mountain Table also offers gorgeous views of the Badlands from above and it can be reached both by car through a dirt road or on foot. When in South Dakota, not visiting the Badlands National Park would be a shame. With multiple trails and scenic viewpoints, rich history with fossil discoveries to back it up, it’s definitely a bucket-list item to check off you’re list.

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Looking for Web Design & Development in Badlands, South Dakota?

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“We are getting unparalleled service, and truly professional and beautiful work.”
- Robin’s Confections

Let’s get started on your next project.

Where Is It?

Badlands National Park

South Dakota, United States

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