The Badlands National Park is located in South Dakota. Established first as a National Monument in 1939, the Badlands became a National Park in 1978. Consisting of 244,000 acres, the park is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret.
Fees are relatively minimal to gain entrance into Badlands Park. Fees are either weekly or annually. An individual entrance fee is just $10 for a week or $20 for a year. Additional fees apply for passengers on motorcycles and buses.
The Badlands National Park is easily accessible by both plane and car. If you decide to fly on your visit, you would want to fly into either the Rapid City or Sioux Falls airports. By car, you want to take interstate 90 to access highway 240, which is known as the Badlands Loop Road.
There are many hotel chains with accommodation available just a short drive from Badlands Park. Motel 6, Econo Lodge, Days Inn, and Best Western are all located within 25 miles away from the park.
Most visitors to the park will, however, choose to campout in Badlands National Park itself. There are two main campsites within the park, Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground. Neither campground accepts reservations. Instead, both operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Sage Creek Campground has no facilities, except for toilets. The Cedar Pass Campground does provide some facilities, like showers.
Most people visiting Badlands Park will spend their time hiking, cycling, or simply enjoying being one with nature. There are many trails in the park, including Cliff Shelf Nature Trail, Notch Trail, and Fossil Exhibit Trail. One of the most interesting facts about the Badlands Park is the existence of many fossils, and you'll be certain to see many of them in the Fossil Exhibit Trail.
The Badlands had been home to many Native American tribes for centuries before homesteaders arrived and the US government forced them to reservations. Parts of the park are today co-managed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Wounded Knee, where the final confrontation between Indians and the US Government took place, is not located in Badlands National Park, as many people believe. Rather, it is located just 45 miles from the park.
Badlands Park is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret. The black-footed ferret is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. Loss of habitat is the primary reason for the decline in numbers of the black-footed ferret. Its habitat has now been reduced to nearly two percent of what it was before agriculture took over most of Midwestern America. Its recovery efforts are now focused in the Badlands Park. For more information on the black-footed ferret and its conservation, visit www.blackfootedferret.org.
Many people will combine a visit to Badlands Park with a trip to see Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore is approximately 100 miles from the park, so the trip can be accomplished in a day. To get to Mount Rushmore, you will want to take interstate 90 to highway 16. Take highway 16 southwest until the exit for highway 244, which takes you directly to the Mount Rushmore Memorial.
America is very fortunate to have such huge tracts of land designated for the purpose of outdoor activities and conservation. Badlands National Park is home of many of America's wonders.