"Badlands National Park" Wall Things to Do Tip by WFTR

Wall Things to Do: 10 reviews and 17 photos

Badlands National Park is one of my favorite places in the United States. The park contains many acres of erosional topography that is visually stunning and somewhat exotic to a guy who grew up in East Tennessee. Badlands is where I first saw pronghorn, a goat of the American West that is often called an antelope. The ground that gave rise to the 'badlands' topography is a very light brown or beige color in most places, and I believe that it may be of volcanic origin. A shallow topsoil covers this ground, and grass grows in this topsoil. Where the grass grows, it protects the soil from erosion. Where there is no grass, wind and water carve the ground into fantastic shapes.
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The main tourist part of Badlands National Park is on the eastern end of the large park area and is called the North Unit. The North Unit has a campground, restaurant, (maybe a lodge), developed hiking trails, and some exhibits. If one wants to experience The Badlands, this is the first place to go. I have photographs of the park on my personal website at <a href='http://www.geocities.com/wftright/wpblands.html'>Badlands National Park</a>.
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The developed trails are not that extensive. Castle Trail and Medicine Root Trail cover most of the North Unit's hiking area. They are both relatively flat trails, and an average hiker could probably cover them in half a day or so. I've always visited in the fall when temperatures were not too high. Even in cool weather, I became thirsty on these trails. I strongly recommend that any carry water at any time of the year. Another fun little trail is called Saddle Pass Trail. This trail involves a short uphill section, but the view from the top is very nice. Saddle Pass Trail intersects the others after just a mile or so, and all could be done in a day.
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The closest access to the North Unit is from I-90 at Cactus Flat, South Dakota. If one wants to reach the park quickly, the distance from that exit is only a few miles. The 'back way' to the interstate runs through much of the park and meets I-90 at Wall, South Dakota. This road is a beautiful drive in the daylight. On the south side of the road are the badlands formations that give the park its name. Most of them look like those in the main tourist area, but some are especially large or majestic. In one area, the ground has many colors like a rainbow. On the north side of the road are rolling grasslands, and I have seen deer and/or pronghorn in this area on each of my visits. There are many little picnic areas and overlooks on the road, and I strongly recommend the drive. <p>

The South Unit of the park is undeveloped as far as I have seen. For those who want to do backpacking, permits are available to allow backcountry trips through the South Unit. I don't believe that this part of the park has as much badlands topography. I drove towards the South Unit in 1988, and this part of the park is the only place where I saw bison.

Address: I-90 and follow the signs

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 4, 2002
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