• Badlands formations against the blue sky; photo by Rikk Flohr

    Badlands

    National Park South Dakota

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  • Visitor Center Open / Road Construction

    Park roads and parking lots are under construction. Expect occasional 10 - 15 minute road construction delays along Hwy 240 Loop Road. There is limited parking at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Please follow the signs to park in designate areas.

Fossils

fossil

Fossils are protected in Badlands National Park.

The White River Badlands contain the largest assemblage of known late Eocene and Oligocene mammal fossils. Fossil research from the area contributed significantly to the science of vertebrate paleontology in North America, beginning with the description of a titanothere mandible in 1846 by Dr. Hiram Prout. Since then numerous important finds from the area have informed scientists about ancient animals, climates, and ecosystems from different geologic time periods. Oligocene fossil remains include camels, three-toed horses, oreodonts, antelope-like animals, rhinoceroses, deer-like mammals, rabbits, beavers, creodonts, land turtles, rodents and birds.

Marine fossils are found in deposits of an ancient sea that existed in the region some 75 to 67 millionyears ago during the Cretaceous period. Fossils found in the Pierre Shale and Fox Hills Formations include ammonites, nautiloids, fish, marine reptiles, and turtles.

The spectacular vertebrate fossils preserved within the White River Badlands have been studied extensively since 1846 and are included in museum collections throughout the world.

Did You Know?

black-footed ferret

Four species of wildlife have been reintroduced into the Badlands since its establishment as a National Monument in 1939. The black-footed ferret, bighorn sheep, bison, and swift fox, once exterminated from the area's mixed grass prairie, are again thriving in their native habitat.