Badlands National Park

Posted in North America | April 12, 2010 | Comment Now

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern part of South Dakota (Jackson, Pennington and Shannon Counties) in the United States. The national park spread over an area of 2,44,000 includes the Badlands Wilderness and features rugged terrain and unique rock formations in the shape of colourful domes and canyons. These formations, however, stand in stark contrast against the hills and prairies where they are located. Badlands was declared as Badlands National Monument in March, 1929 but it was officially established only in January 1939. It was redesignated as a national park in November 1978. Red Shirt Table (1,020 metres) is the highest point in the park.


About 60 million years ago when the Rockies Mountains were at its stage of infancy, a large number of streams transported eroded soil and rock eastward from the range and deposited them on the vast lowlands, which are known today by the name of the Great Plains. Dense vegetation gradually covered these lowlands, which was later buried by new sediments. The vegetation turned into lignite coal with the passage of time. Some of the plant life became petrified (huge amount of exposed petrified wood is seen in the badlands today). Sediments continued to be deposited in the area and more streams cut through the soft rock layers, forming the current geological features. Human beings used the area for hunting animals for thousands of years. Towards the end of the 19th century, US government drove off the natives of the area resulting in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.


Badlands National Park features the largest and protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The grasses are fed by the rains, even though it is quite minimal. Several non-native plant species are also found here. These species were brought here by various settlers at some point of history.


The fauna here includes deer, prairie dogs, big horn sheep, rabbits, bats, bisons and coyotes. Black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America, has been introduced in Badlands Wilderness Area. Birds, reptiles and amphibians are also found here.


Summers are extremely hot and harsh at Badlands national Park while winters are cold. August is the hottest month while April-June is the time for the maximum rainfall at the park. Snow is expected in winter while blizzards generally occur around October. The park is windy.

Reaching Badlands National Park:
  • By air:
    Rapid City Regional Airport in Rapid City is the nearest airport,
  • By road:
    Greyhound buses serve Badlands National Park from Rapid City.

Entry pass for one year is available for $30.  Seven-day pass for non-commercial vehicles are available for $15 while seven-day pass for hikers and cyclists for $10.  Getting around: By car, bicycle, horse or hiking.

  • Ben Reifel Visitor Center

  • White River Visitor Center
  • A small overlook of the Red Shirt Table
Travelling tips:
  • Carry sufficient water
  • Keep at a safe distance from the wildlife
  • Do not dig artifacts/fossils from the locations
  • Beware the cacti
  • Keep records of the weather and map
  • Hiking
  • Picnic
  • Visiting amphitheater located in the Cedar Pass Campground
  • Cedar Pass Lodge
  • Campgrounds, namely, Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground.

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