Jul 18

Badlands National Park: Overview of the Badlands Loop Road

Scenic OverlookKaren and I have traveled west a few times and have never made it a point to stop by Badlands National Park.  I do not know if it was the name of the place or just in hurry to get to the Black Hills and beyond, but this latest excursion west we wanted to make the point to at least drive the Badlands Loop Road.  We were pleasantly surprised with what we found there, and it will probably become a permanent fixture on our jaunts west through South Dakota on I90.badlands loop roadAfter entering Badlands National Park the first stop was at the big Badlands Overlook which gave us our first up close look of the Wall which provides a stark contrast from the surrounding plains area as a natural barrier of pinnacles, rock faced cliffs, and ravines.  While it might not be considered a scenic beauty to the average tourist it does provide a very unique landscape to take in.  We recommend getting away from the parking lot and at least do the paved areas or boardwalks of the trail.The climb upOnce leaving the Badlands Overlook we headed over to the Notch, Door, and Window hiking where we did all three of the short trails followed by the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail hiking area which is also a short hike.  All four of those trails are worth the time and effort because they give you a little bit more of an intimate understanding of what makes up Badlands National Park.  If you are interesting in reading more about some of our experiences hiking in Badlands National Park you can click here.      One of the trailsOur next stop was the Ben Reifel Visitor Center which provided a great place to get information, not only from the friendly park rangers, but the exhibits displays they have up.  Badlands National Park has over 244,000 acres of land so if you are interested in seeing some of the best spots or some of the prairie wildlife like bison, bighorn sheep, and the possible chance of actually seeing the endangered black-footed ferret a park ranger is probably your best bet to tell you where.Loop RoadAfter leaving the visitor center we went to our final hike of the day which was the Fossil Exhibit Trail which showcased some of the ancient fossils that used to call the Badlands home before they were so “bad.”  From the fossil area the rest of the Badlands Loop Road consisted of scenic overlook after scenic overlook.  Towards the end of the loop road you will have the choice to head back to I90 or take the Sage Creek Rim Road.  We headed back to I90 because we wanted to see Custer State Park that afternoon and I had a date with Harney Peak.The BadlandsWe definitely recommend at least taking the Badlands Loop Road if you are in the area ,if you are in a hurry you can get a good overview of Badlands National Park in just a few hours.  If you have a little bit more time I recommend taking at least one of the short hikes there and if you have the day go ahead and check out the Sage Creek Rim Road if you do not mind your car being on a gravel road.Badlands National ParkIf you are interested in more information about Badlands National Park check out their website at http://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm


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  1. freda

    This looks more like a movie set on the moon. It is strange to me that the earth can pop up all these strange land formations.

    1. Kenny and Karen

      It was amazing to see after endless miles of prairie

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