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Free Traveling Guides » States » South Dakota » Greater South Dakota

» National Parks

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

sunset over badlands

Badlands National Park, in southwest South Dakota, has some of the most spectacular natural formations in the United States. The White River Badlands could in fact be considered a pocket-sized cousin of Arizona's Grand Canyon. About one tenths of the Badlands-the most amazing parts-were declared a national park in the 1970s.

Visitors to the Badlands National Park can backpack or climb just about anywhere. Among the best of the marked hiking trails are the Door Trail, a loop that enters the eerie wasteland through a natural doorway. Another fantastic trail is the Fossil Exhibit Trail, ten miles ahead. The Badlands' rainbow colors are most vibrant at dawn, dusk and just after rainfall. Many animals - black-tailed prairie dogs, mule deer, bison, coyotes, and bighorn sheep thrive under the conditions in Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park is a great family park. A handful of seasonal campgrounds operate both in the park and in Wall, which is the most visited commercial center in the region. Short scenic helicopter rides leave from outside the northeast entrance of the park. Adjoining the Ben Reifel visitor center, you can find in-park accommodations. The National Grasslands visitor center makes a good jumping-off point and provides maps.

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