Ultimate Guide to Badlands National Park
- Badlands National Park is one of the youngest National Parks in the System
- The Badlands is a giant geological example of first deposition and erosion.
- The official Badlands are located about an hour from Rapid City, making it easy to access.
- The Badlands National Park is one of the most densely populated areas of fossils.
- The park contains a total of 244,000 acres, with the North and South Units.
Badlands National Park is a must see during your visit to the Black Hills. It's about 50 minutes from Rapid City and well worth the drive. One of the most overlooked in the National Park System, the Badlands offers quite a bit. At just around 244,000 acres, this park represents two stark contrasts. While traveling down the road you can look to your left and see pristine National Grasslands and the other a major geological example of deposition and erosion. Badlands National Park provides the photographer with stunning sculpture, shapes, colors and shadows. For the nature lover you can spot the great American Bison, Big Horn Sheep, Prairie Dogs, Black Footed Ferret, Pronghorns and Burrowing Owls.
The history here goes back millions of years, and Badlands National Park has one of the highest concentration of fossils in the world. Hiking here can reveal jawbones, turtle shells, dinosaur and mammal bones. Just make sure to look, report your finding to a park ranger and never take anything from the park! The roads are well paved and the Ben Reifel Visitors Center also offers an amphitheater just around the corner for demonstrations and night sky programs. Badlands National Park is considered one of the best night sky parks in America.
There is food in the park at the Cedar Pass Lodge. Make sure to try one of the Indian Taco's while your there, or pack a picnic lunch. It takes a couple of hours to drive through the park, and longer depending solely on your curiosity. One could easily spend the entire day here hiking, biking, sightseeing and taking photos.
Sunsets are amazing here. The sun changes the geological layers from grey, white and a light red to deep yellows, oranges and red hues. The magic time is about 1 1/2 hours before sunset. My favorite location is Pinnacles overlook, the first as you enter off of I-90 at exit 110 for Wall, South Dakota. This is a great place to hire a professional guide so you can sit back, take in all the scenery and enjoy nature. My XO Adventures offers day and night tours to the park. You can make the most of your experience by booking a tour of the Badlands with My XO Adventures.