Badlands National Park, in southwest South Dakota, United States preserves 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States.
The Badlands Wilderness protects 64,144 acres of the park as a designated wilderness area and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. It was made a National Monument in 1939, and became Badlands National Park in 1978. Badlands National Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Before white homesteaders arrived in the mid to late 1800s, this was the territory of the Oglala Band of the Sioux Nation, who named it "Mako Sica," meaning "bad land." The human history of the South Dakota Badlands stretches 11,000 years further back than that, and its animal life is many more millions of years old. Today, it is the most significant paleontology site on the continent, containing the world's richest fossil beds.
The grandeur and diverse landscape of the Badlands is ideal for cruising, and Highway 240 gives you the perfect vantage point at every turn of a 30-mile loop. Nearly 30 scenic overlooks provide impressive photo opportunities.
Turn off the western end of the Badlands Loop Road onto the Sage Creek Rim Road, where outdoor photography enthusiasts find diverse wildlife, including buffalo, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, prairie dogs and numerous birds.
Prairie Dog Town is on the Sage Creek Rim Road, where a homestead has been converted to a massive network of tunnels where you can see black-tailed prairie dogs up close. They join 39 mammal species of the prairie animals that thrive in Badlands National Park, along with various reptiles, amphibians, birds and 69 butterfly species.
See the summer sky as never before, with a ranger-guided Night Sky Program helping you identify what’s out there in the heavens. Telescopes are provided, along with a spectacular viewing experience, thanks to the Badlands' isolation and absence of artificial lighting. On any given night, visitors will be exposed to more than 7,500 stars. Especially phenomenal is the clarity of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Night sky views include not only galaxies but also star clusters, nebulae, planets and moons.