Stepping into the desolate landscape of Badlands National Park is like finding yourself on a whole different planet. Wind and water have eroded the hills down to jagged pinnacles and spires unlike anything else you have every seen. But even in this harsh environment life prevails. Wildlife can often be viewed while driving, biking, or hiking through the park.
About Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of toothed buttes, pinnacles, spires, and mixed grassland. While this harsh landscape may seem barren, but it is filled with an array of wildlife. Scientists have observed 39 mammal species, 9 reptile species, 6 amphibian species, 206 bird species, and 69 butterfly species. Buffalo, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, coyotes, and the nearly extinct Black-Footed ferret are just a few of the animals that call the Badlands home today. Many of which can be seen while driving through the park.
Beneath the dirt, lay relics of the past. Fossilized remains of long extinct creatures are being found every year in Badlands National Park. Titanothere and archaeotherium are just a couple of the primitive mammals that have been unearthed. So many fossils have been found in the area that it is considered to be one of world’s richest deposits of mammal fossil beds. Due to the constant erosion, some fossils (like the one pictured) even make their way to the surface. If you come across a fossil, be sure to tell a park ranger. Do not remove or disturb the fossil.
Hiking the Badlands
8 trailheads that can be found throughout Badlands National Park. These trails allow hikers to fully experience the bizarre beauty of the area. Trail difficulty ranges from easy to difficult and lengths range from under a mile to ten miles. In addition, many of the trails have boardwalks for easy access and comfort. No matter what trail you choose, come prepared. Temperatures can soar up to 116 degrees in the summer and drop to -40 degrees in the winter. Cactus are common and rattlesnakes are often sighted in the summer months so be careful where you step. Visit the Badlands National Park website for more information on hiking trails and trail safety.