Established in 1939, Badlands National Park is located in Interior, South Dakota. The park covers more than 244,000 acres and has around 1 million visitors each year, according to the U.S. National Park Service. The area also is considered to be one of the largest sites, in the world, that house mammal fossils. From nature walks to scenic bike paths, the Badlands National Park offers attractions for outdoor adventurers at every turn.
Cliff Shelf Nature Trails
The Cliff Shelf Nature Trail is a half-mile hiking trail that takes visitors through an area of the park known for its wildlife watching. Species often found along the path include black-footed ferrets, swift foxes and bighorn sheep. An upward climb, the trail ascends around 200 feet from start to finish and provides views of the White River Valley that the U.S. National Park Service identifies as one of the best in the park. When hiking in the Badlands in the summer, park service recommends carrying one gallon of water per person to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience at one of the Badlands' most notable attractions.
Sage Creek Rim Road
For wildlife enthusiasts that prefer cycling, Sage Creek Loop provides an opportunity to spot many of the park's species of animals. The road is 23 miles long, 12 miles of which are paved and 11 miles of which are unpaved. The ride is mainly on flat grasslands, making it an easy course, explains the U.S. National Parks Service, but also allowing cyclists to focus on the beauty of the trail. When taking the trail, keep in mind that heavy rains fall often in the spring and summer, which may make unpaved parts impassable or difficult. Because cell phones rarely work inside the park, carry a tire repair kit and air pump as you make the trip along the Loop. If you drove to the park in a car, bring your receipt with you so you can avoid paying the entrance fee found along the loop.
Night Sky Program
At night, the Badlands makes an ideal location for stargazing due to its distance from any electric lights that can hamper the view. From June to September, the park offers a Night Sky Program every evening at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater. The topics of these 40-minute programs change nightly, but allow visitors to study the stars while listening to a presentation from one of the park's rangers. Telescopes also are provided after the event so participants can get a better view of the features discussed in the presentation.