Badlands National Park is a popular tourist spot; which is located in southwestern South Dakota. The park consists of unique formations of sand and rock. The park contains 244,000 acres of protected wildlife along with striking hills and valleys. The park was proclaimed as one of USA’s national park in 1978. The park features many activities for tourists as well as opportunities for sightseeing.
The Badlands weather is unpredictable with hot and dry summers and occasional spells of thunderstorms. Winters are usually cold. Hailstorms and sudden tornadoes can occur in the Badlands unexpectedly. Visitors are advised to wear layered clothing and be prepared with hats, sunglasses, and sufficient supply of water for hiking.
Things to do:
The Ben Reifel Visitors Center is home to many exhibits, tourist information and videos about the park. The park is home to many species of wildlife. Antelopes and deer’s are commonly sighted in the picnic areas as well as coyote, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and bison. The black-footed ferret which is one of the most endangered species has also been able to repopulate itself in the park with the help of its staff.
The park also has the world’s richest deposits of fossils. The fossils are mostly found from the Oligocene era about 30 million years ago. The paleontologists have also uncovered fossils from the marine life such as snails and turtles. The paleontology lab is open at certain timings throughout the day and gives the visitors chance to learn more about the fossils.
The hills of the park mostly contain sedimentary rocks. The different-colored layered rocks are visible on the hillside. The rocks are good for climbing also, but the climbers are urged to look for loose rocks. Horseback riding and biking are also allowed on certain trails.
Hiking trials at the Badlands National Park range from beginners to highly skilled. The hiking usually takes the whole day and gives the hikers a scenic view of the white river valley.
Where to stay:
Backcountry camping is allowed in the national park, but the campers should pitch their tent at least 0.5 miles from the road. The Cedar Pass Lodge also has facilities for cabins and cottages. Campers can also stay at the Sage Creek Campground which offers free camping places and washroom and picnic facilities.
Cell phones don’t usually work in most areas of the park. It is better to bring along a map or a compass when exploring the backcountry. It is also advisable to bring along a first aid kit, flashlight, and plenty of food and water.
Although visiting the park offers the visitors a unique chance to view the wildlife, but exposure to certain wildlife such as rattlesnake and stinging insects can lead to an unpleasant experience. Respect the parks wildlife and keep a 100 ft distance from them.
The Badlands can get very slippery when wet. Always look out for unpredictable weather signs and take shelter when appropriate.