This was the first National Park on our National Park Trip Season 2. No disappointment here at all. From the time you pull up to the entrance sign until the time you leave, there is 360 degrees of beauty all around. Pinnacles, spires, canyons, prairies and grasslands. This place has it all. The layers of depositing sediments have created a natural beauty that you need to see for yourself, just amazing. It is so peaceful and serene, this is why we loved this park.
Another reason to love Badlands, Wildlife galore! We saw bighorn sheep, a porcupine, prairie dogs and much much more. We kept our eyes out for the black footed ferret but unfortunately didn’t get to see any. What really impressed us was the Fossil Museum and Paleontology lab at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. You could sit and watch the paleontologist work on fossils. The fossils they have on display blew us away as well!
We always try to attend a ranger program at every National Park we visit. This time we went with the Night Sky Viewing Program at the Amphitheatre behind the visitor center. We actually lucked out and got a Geology talk all about how the Badlands formed (I won’t ruin it here, you will need to go and find out for yourself), and the sea that covered the area millions of years ago which explains all of the cool fossils they have found there. When that program was done it was dark enough to get out the telescopes, I have never seen a telescope like these before! Absolutely amazing! The kids and I were able to see the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and The International Space Station as it went by. Totally impressed with this program, and the kids talked about Jupiter and Saturn all the way back to the hotel. I suggest hitting this program if it works into your schedule. Awesome!
Another reason to love the Badlands is that there are very few hiking trails to overwhelm you and you do have time for all of them. We went on a few, most are on boardwalks to where you can then get off on foot paths and explore the formations on your own. Here are a few pics of The Door Trail to give you an idea and feel for the trail system. Perfect for day explorers to the park.
Kids earned their Junior Rangers while we were here and we got our cancellations in our Passport books. The Rangers at the Visitor Center were all really helpful and full of information. Great little gift shop here, where we picked up a few items and then we were off to the next stop. We did swing by the South Unit visitor center. Spent about 30 minutes there. A few neat exhibits but if you are short on time I would skip.
I allocated about 1 1/2 days here and intermixed with Minuteman Missile (see blog for that here). That gave us plenty of time to hike, drive through, attend a ranger program, get our Jr. Rangers and visit both of the visitor centers. After much thought and research we decided not to stay in the lodging inside of the park. We chose Frontier Cabins, located just North of the North Entrance to the park in Wall, South Dakota. We were able to get our own cabin and the kids slept in their own tee pee. Also able to enjoy a hot tub, free breakfast and it was minutes from Wall Drug. I would recommend this hotel, very quiet and peaceful hard to believe it is right off the Interstate. It worked perfect for us to commute between Wall, The Badlands, Minuteman Missile and the Delta 01 Launch site.
That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed my post on Badlands National Park. Let me know if you have any questions! National Park Trip Season 2 is off to a great start.