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Badlands National Park Travel Guide

  • Photo: Geoffrey Kuchera / Shutterstock

Plan Your Badlands National Park Vacation

So stark and forbidding are the chiseled spires, ragged ridgelines, and deep ravines of South Dakota's badlands that Lieutenant Colonel George Custer once described them as "hell with the fires burned out." Although a bit more accessible than the depths of the underworld, the landscape is easily the strangest in the Great Plains. Ruthlessly ravaged over the ages by wind and rain, the

380 square miles of wild terrain continue to erode and evolve, sometimes visibly changing shape in a few days. Prairie creatures thrive on the untamed territory, and animal fossils are in abundance.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Fossils From the mid-1800s, the fossil-rich Badlands area has welcomed paleontologists, research institutions, and fossil hunters who have discovered the fossil remnants of numerous species from ancient days.
  2. A world of wildlife Badlands National Park is home to a wide array of wildlife bison, pronghorn, deer, black-footed ferrets, prairie dogs, rabbits, coyotes, foxes, badgers.
  3. Missiles The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, north of the entrance to the park, represents the only remaining intact components of a nuclear-missile field that consisted of 150 Minuteman II missiles and 15 launch control centers, and covered more than 13,500 square miles of southwestern South Dakota.
  4. Stars aplenty Due to its remote location and vastly open country, Badlands National Park contains some of the clearest and cleanest air in the country, which makes it perfect for viewing the night sky.

When To Go

When to Go

Most visitors see the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The park's vast size and isolation prevent it from ever being too packed—though...

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