Badlands National Park, South Dakota, History
A National Park With An Eroded Landscape
Many wild animals inhabit the park, common sights being the prong
horn antelope, the mule deer, and in certain sections of the park, the
wild buffalo. Buffalo were reintroduced and now number 800 animals.
The animal pictured above is a captive animal in a coral about a half
way between the park campground and the village of Interior.
From the parks overlooks and viewpoints you can see wild animals
grazing in the flat grassland below. Binoculars help to see them as they
keep their distance from the road except in early morning or at dusk
when they are more apt to be on the move.
Lynx or bobcat work the roadsides for road kill and a large Prairie dog
town lies on both sides of the road at about the midpoint of the Route
240 loop road.
RV vacationers use the park as a convenient stopover on the way west or east on route I-90; the
park's loop road is an east/west road. Bikers on the way to the August rally at Sturgis, North
Dakota make the park a stop on the way. The Rally draws a reported 500,000 people
In the 1870s, homesteads covered the land below the
overlooks. Most were abandoned and consolidated into large
farms or became part of the park. Just before the Northeast
Entrance to the park, a typical homestead still stands as a
museum and is a worthwhile visit if you want to learn about the
history of the area.
Good roads through the park and many viewpoints
make it a great place to drive through, particularly on
the Badlands Loop Road.
Private Campgrounds are available nearby in the
town of Interior At Badlands/White River KOA
Campgrounds. Max length 73, 50 amp, WiFi, Cable,
Pool, and more.
Renting a vehicle for a trip to Badlands National Park check Auto Europe
selection, price, and ease of booking on the web. . Shop online well
ahead of your trip and choose diesel or gas, luggage space, standard or
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The abandoned lands eventually became large
ranches and then Government land and today the
Badlands National Park.
The Badlands sits astride the main East/West route
across the country, about 60 miles east of Rapid City
and Mount Rushmore.
The park offers camping and sightseeing on roadside
pullouts with great views along Route 240 of a natural
eroding landscape shaped by wind and water. The
stratified layers are of variously colored deposits that
spread over a huge area of grasslands.
Many viewpoints put you into the heart of
the eroded landscape
Homesteaders would later learn just how
bad the Badlands could be when they took
up the governments offer for nearly free
Badlands National Park in South Dakota is
famous for its eroded Landscapes, weather
extremes, and legends about a land that
drove some homesteaders crazy.
Badlands National Park is about 60 miles
east of Rapid City and Mount Rushmore.
The park offers some great views of the
natural shaping of the land by wind and
Badlands National Park, History
Badlands National Park encompasses 244,000 acres of land, much of it protected grassland, the largest mixed
grass preserve in the US.
In the 1870s homesteads covered the land below the overlooks. Most were abandoned and consolidated into
large farms or are now parkland. Just before the east entrance to the park, a typical homestead still stands
as a museum and is a worthwhile stop to learn about the history of the area.
Eroded spires and tortured landscape prompted French Fur
trappers of the 19th Century to name the wild land,
“mauvaises terres á traverser,” thus giving this section of
South Dakota the name “bad lands to cross.”
The Homesteaders Museum at the Northeast
entrance to the park is a typical homestead still
standing as a museum about the history of the
Badlands National Park History
Park entrance Fees
$7. individual Hiker or biker
Camping with electrical hookup $28
The lure of nearly free land
offered by the Federal
Government in the 1860s
caused many people to
move to the grasslands of
South Dakota. What they did
not know at the time was that
the land would not support
large herds of cattle and that
the weather extremes of
wind, frost, and hail would
make agriculture difficult.
The homesteader had to
plow ten acres and to remain
on the land making
improvements for five years.
While this sounded simple
enough, the Badlands would
beat many a homesteader
and force them to abandon
How to Reach the Badlands:
The nearest large city is Rapid City South Dakota.
Air service reaches Rapid City from hubs in Denver
Rental cars are available at the airport. From Rapid
City take scenic Route 44 east to Interior and the
National Park campground or take Route route 90
east to Wall and find the Park entrance and loop
Best Time To Visit Badlands South Dakota:
May 40 f at night 65 f days
The weather is perfect June, July, August but the
mid day temperature can reach over 100f. June
is a wet month. July and August can have
thunderstorms with hail.
September, 40 f at night 65 f days
Cold and winter snows possible October to April
Total snow 2 feet per year.
Badlands Loop Road
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