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In 2009, we drove across South Dakota to the Badlands. Badlands National Park is known for its eroded rock formations and protects the largest remaining grassland prairies in the United States.
Native Americans used the Badlands as their hunting grounds. The Lakota, because of the extreme temperatures and rough terrain, called it ‘makho sica’ which translates the ‘land bad.’
We rolled into the area at night and stayed at the Circle View Guest Ranch. Circle View is a B&B on the top of a butte. It is 6 miles outside the National Park.
In the morning, the kids helped the owners collect the fresh eggs outside. After a hearty breakfast, we were on our way to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. There we listened to a ranger’s fossil talk and picked up our junior ranger booklets.
From the visitor center, we headed to the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. This is a half-mile loop following boardwalks and stairs through a juniper forest atop the Badlands Wall.
Then we drove the park road, stopping at various trail-heads. There are a few short walks from the road to points of interest, such as the Door and Window trails with views into the canyon.
Location: 25216 SD-240, Interior, SD 57750
Designation: National Reserve, State Park, NRHP
Date designated or established: 1/29/1939
Date of my visit: 1/31/2016