November 06 2014
Written By
Paul Jaworski
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The Great 59 - Part 3: Badlands National Park

The Great 59 is a series on America’s National Park Service.

Badlands National Park

State: South Dakota

Created: November 10, 1978

Size: 244,000 Acres

Badlands National Park is both vast and strikingly beautiful. It’s by no means the largest of the national parks, but the scenery here seems to go on forever and it has a deep history. The park actually contains one of the world’s richest fossil beds.

The park, located south of Interstate 90 between Exits 110 and 131, is home to many species of wildlife including bighorn sheep, bison, the swift fox and the endangered black-footed ferret. Antelope and deer are commonly seen roaming near roadways and picnic areas. There are also rattlesnakes that live in the area so make sure to watch your step.

What To Do:

Camping- There are only two campgrounds at the park: Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground

Photography- There are plenty of photo opportunities of both the vast landscape itself and the range of wildlife that reside here.

Scenic Drive – To be honest with you, most people that come through Badlands usually just take a drive and make it a day trip with some photography and hiking mixed in.

Stargazing – If you do decide to stay overnight in Badlands, there is an estimated 7500 stars that you can see in the sky. Pretty crazy!

Places Of Interest:

Badlands Wall - This is one of those “you’ll know it when you see it” type of things. The wall lies at the heart of the park and stretches sixty miles long and a few miles wide. It’s intimidating peaks and colorful walls are what gave this park its name.

Loop Road- This is the main road through the park complete with places to stop to take in the view or pop off a couple of photos. If you’re at the park during the winter make sure to bring food because the little restaurant is closed.

Door Trail: An easy trail that gives you a great view at the end. If you want a peaceful start or end to your day check this one out at sunrise or sunset.

Badlands National Park is open all year with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. We wouldn’t recommend going to visit in between the months of December and March anyway. The average temperatures are rarely higher than 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Photo Credit: Carl Johnson and


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