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


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  • Visitor Center Open / Road Construction

    The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm. The front parking lot is under construction. Please follow the signs, park in the side lot, and use the side doors. Expect 10 - 15 minute road construction delays along Hwy 240 Loop Road.

Badlands National Park: This week's National Park Getaway

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Date: March 23, 2011
Contact: Jennie Albrinck, 605-433-5240
Contact: Elise Cleva, 202-208-6843

Wall, S.D. This week's National Park Getaway was once considered a "bad land" by early settlers  intent on farming. To present-day residents, visitors, and even wildlife, Badlands National Park is a place of beauty, serenity and refuge.

From the moment visitors enter the park, they enter a landscape of incredible natural beauty where 500,000 years of erosion have created fantastic shapes in the soft rock. The Badlands Loop Road winds through a maze of canyons, buttes and spires, with several trails and scenic overlooks. Past these features is the wilderness area, a wind-swept prairie that is home to herds of wild bison and bighorn sheep. Visitors are invited to walk as far as they like into this free and serene environment, or drive to wildlife viewing areas including a prairie dog town. Those who stay overnight can enjoy a beautiful sunset, sunrise, and starry night sky.

"This is a living landscape that calls to us," said Superintendent Eric J. Brunnemann, "and reminds us of a time when the American frontier was full of promising wilderness. It has an amazing fossil record that tells the story of 65 million years of natural history."

With 244,000 acres of land to explore, it is easy to enjoy Badlands National Park for an hour, a day, or a week. And this is just one of several parks in the area, which includes Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Wind Cave National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument. To learn more about Badlands, visit the National Park Getaway page, which also features 91 other great destinations.


Did You Know?

The white water of Sage Creek

Available water in the badlands is always loaded with sediment. Cloudy and milky white in appearance, the water contains particles that carry a slight charge of electricity. The particles repel each other, instead of settling to the bottom. Early visitors found the water unsuitable for drinking.