My family and I had the chance to visit the Badlands this past summer (2017), what a great time. We drove in from the east (Chicago) and that alone is an experience. We traveled through Minnesota and the first part of South Dakota, which included a lot of prairies and farms. Then all of a as sudden, there you are… the Badlands pop up seemingly out of nowhere. I’ve had the good fortune to travel to many places in my lifetime and I can say the Badlands have a different feel than any other place. The colors you will see on the stones/hills are amazing, each layer brings another wave of rusty tones. If you and your family are into day hiking, this is a great spot. As with most national parks, you should stick to the trails. Someone ventured off the trial the day after we visited and got bit by a rattler. We ended up visiting the park for about 5 hours. I would recommend giving yourself at least that much time to explore.
The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.
0.75 miles/1.2 km (round trip)
Easy. An accessible ¼ mile boardwalk leads through a break in the Badlands Wall known as “the Door” and to a view of the Badlands. From there, the maintained trail ends. Travel beyond this point is at your own risk. Watch for drop-offs.
0.25 miles/0.4 km (round trip)
Easy. This short trail leads to a natural window in the Badlands Wall with a view of an intricately eroded canyon. Please stay on the trail.
1.5 miles/2.4 km (round trip)
Moderate to strenuous. After meandering through a canyon, this trail climbs a log ladder and follows a ledge to “the Notch” for a dramatic view of the White River Valley. Trail begins at the south end of the Door and Window parking area. Watch for drop-offs. Not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights. Treacherous during or after heavy rains.
10 miles/16 km (round trip)
Moderate. The longest trail in the park begins at the Door and Window parking area and travels five miles one way to the Fossil Exhibit Trail. Relatively level, the path passes along some badlands formations.
0.5 miles/0.8 km (round trip)
Moderate. This loop trail follows boardwalks and climbs stairs through a juniperforest perched along the Badlands Wall. A small pond occasionally exists in the area and draws wildlife, such as deer or bighorn sheep. Climbs approximately 200 feet in elevation. Please stay on the trail.
.25 miles/.40 km (round trip)
Strenuous. This short trail climbs up the Badlands Wall to a view over the White River Valley. The trail ends where it connects with the Castle and Medicine Root Loop Trails.
Medicine Root Loop
4 miles/6.4 km (round trip)
Moderate. This generally rolling trail connects with the Castle Trail near the Old Northeast Road and at the intersection of the Castle and Saddle Pass Trails. Trail users are provided the opportunity to explore the mixed grass prairie while enjoying views of the Badlands in the distance. Watch for cactus.
Fossil Exhibit Trail
0.25 miles/0.4 km (round trip)
Easy. Fully accessible boardwalk trail features fossil replicas and exhibits of now extinct creatures that once roamed the area.
25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD 57750
Phone: (605) 433-5361
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If anyone has been to the Badlands Please leave any tips, info, experiences good, bad or other below!