Badlands National Park


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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




16 thoughts on “Badlands National Park

  1. Perfect timing. We are headed there, Teddy Roosevelt National Park and Mount Rushmore, etc. in July. How many days would you suggest we allocate to see these great places and given that we will be spending four days on the road out from Oregon and three days on the return trip. Thanks so much, Theresa. You are a great travel resource for us.

    1. Hi Don! We did this as part of a road trip from the far eastern side of South Dakota, all the way out to the western edge and back again. If I were to go back and re-do the trip, I would fly in to Sioux Falls, do the road trip out west, but fly out of Rapid City since we really didn’t have enough time in the Badlands or any other of the sites out there. We wound up staying in the B&B mentioned above for 2 nights, which only gave us one full day in Badlands National park. In addition to Mount Rushmore, you should also try to see the Crazy Horse monument (still in progress.) I mention it at the bottom of this post:

      1. Yes, I’ve read your post on Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse and we are also planning to hit Teddy Roosevelt National Park and Custer State Park along with Badlands. Unfortunately, we have to do it in the summer rather than waiting until after school starts. The question is how much time would you recommend to see all of these. If we have let’s say four days, would you leave out one or do you think we could do all of them. I’m negotiating for five days and may be able to swing that. Thanks Theresa!

      2. So I think Badlands is doable in one day (we did it) but if you wanted to get more hiking in, you might want two days. Custer, we just did the wildlife loop road (post coming soon) …a few hours, but I think there is enough to do here to fill a day. We went to Wind Cave NP that afternoon instead. Mount Rushmore, go early, as soon as it opens because it’s super crowded. Then you can head over to Crazy Horse after. I haven’t been to Theodore Roosevelt NP…that’s 4 hours or so from Rapid City, so you’d have to plan a day and a half I’d think. It looks like a fairly spread out tour. Check out this entry by a some Nat Geo photographers who went to all 59 (at the time) National Parks in a retro RV for the centennial:

        Life is short, go for the extra days exploring.

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