Badlands National Park in South Dakota consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires. Over 11,000 years of human history can be found within the sod layers while 30-65 million-year-old fossils erode out of the rocks. Known locally to the Lakota Sioux as “mako sica” the area was first called “badlands” by early French trappers due to the difficulty of travel and the lack of water.
- The Badlands Wilderness Area includes 2 management units and covers 64,000 acres in the northern portion of the park.
- The 133,000-acre South Unit of the park is located within Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and managed in cooperation with the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
- Established as Badlands National Monument in 1939, the area was redesignated a “National Park” in 1978.
- Badlands National Park contains rich Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating from 23 to 35 million years ago. The rock layers hold the fossilized remains of early mammals such as three-toed horses, housecat sized deer, rhinoceros, saber-toothed cats, camels, and giant pigs.
- Badlands National Park has two International Sister Parks: Vashlovani National Park in the country of Georgia and Hortobagy National Park in Hungary.
- See paleontology in action at the “Pig Dig” as park staff and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology students work during the summer. Visitors to the Conata Picnic Area can watch paleontologists removing 33 million-year-old fossils that were trapped in an ancient watering hole.
- Enjoy spectacular scenery, opportunities for wildlife viewing, wayside exhibits, and trails along Badlands Loop Road.
- Take a backcountry hike in the Badlands Wilderness to explore the prairie and rock formations.
Badlands National Park presents you with a chance to look back into history. If you are looking for wide open, unspoiled places to hike and camp, the Park may be just for you.