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.
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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 land.
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 water.
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 area.
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 the land.
How to Reach the Badlands:
The nearest large city is Rapid City South Dakota. Air service reaches Rapid City from hubs in Denver and Chicago.
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 road.
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