Badlands National Park | Page 2 | Black Hills & Badlands - South Dakota

Badlands National Park

  • Badlands National Park | Photo by: Shawna Valladolid
  • Badlands National Park | Photo by: Shawna Valladolid
  • Badlands National Park | Photo by: Greg Valladolid
  • Badlands National Park | Photo by: Greg Valladolid
  • Badlands National Park | Photo by: Greg Valladolid

The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.” Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. It is desolation at its truest, where you can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.

This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. The Badlands are a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

Badlands National Park also preserves the world’s greatest fossil beds of animals from the Oligocene Epoch of the Age of Mammals. The skeletons of ancient camels, three-toed horses, saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures are among the many fossilized species found here. All fossils, rocks, plants and animals are protected and must remain where you find them. Prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

Come enjoy this park’s biological diversity. The Badlands are home to the largest mixed grass prairie in the National Park System and is surrounded by the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. Wildlife roams the park's boundaries as well. Bison, pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, butterflies, turtles, snakes, bluebirds, vultures, eagles and hawks are just some of the wildlife that can often be seen by visitors. In 1994, the near-extinct Black-footed ferrets were reintroduced into the Badlands prairie. These nocturnal animals are rarely seen by the visiting public.

Hours: 

Badlands National Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Entrance fees are collected year round. The park is in the Mountain Time Zone.

Fees: 

A seven-day pass is $20.00 per private vehicle or $10.00 per person. Bicyclist and pedestrian fees are also $10.00 per person. A seven-day pass for a motorcycle is $10.00. An annual pass is $40.00. Commercial vehicle rates vary according to size of the vehicle.

Entrance fee are collected year round. If stations are closed, fees may be paid at an automated fee station at the Visitor Center.

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