Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Erosion Gone Wild!

The Badlands are where low rolling hills of scrubby blue-yellow grass have cracked open in deep scars and eroded into maze-like basins, the ridges and pinnacles striped in scarlet dirt and bone-white clay.

It is one of the most visually arresting places in the entire United States, at once frighteningly desolate and eeriliy beautiful. It is also a good place to spot buffalo, prairie dog, and bighhorn sheep.

It is also the only national park where they don't care if you bushwhack off the trail, since the whole place is constantly eroding away, with or without your help.

(Do be careful when setting out on any hike; keep to the higher ridges so you won't get lost in the maze of eroded canyons and crevasses; wear a sun hat and sunscreen, have a compass, and carry twice as much water as you think you'd need.)

The park has only two bare-bones campgrounds and a single motel-like lodge, but I love to spend the night here—for the ranger talks, to do some spectacular star-gazing, and to climb a crumbling butte and watch distant lightning storms chase one another across the prairies.

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.