Badlands National Park is a strange place. The landscape is like nothing I had ever seen before. It is incredibly hot and extremely dry. There are miles and miles of dry prairie grass fields mixed with strange rock formations of all different colors.
Badlands got its name from Indian tribes many years ago because the land was bad for living on. It was so hot and dry that growing crops was very difficult and hunting was hard because few animals lived in the area due to lack of vegetation. There are bison and pronghorn sheep that roam the badlands, as well as prairie dogs and rattlesnakes. Luckily, we did not encounter any rattlesnakes while we were there.
There are three different sections in Badlands National Park. The most visited is the North Unit, which is where we went. We entered through the Pinnacle Entrance and drove the entire length of the park on the Scenic Loop Road. There are a number of scenic overlooks to stop at along the way that offer really incredible views.
At the end of the road we stopped at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to look at the exhibits and get some trail information. The majority of the trails in Badlands National Park are located in the Cedar Pass area, which is right near the visitor center. We decided to go hike the Door and Window Trails. These are two of the most popular trails in the park because they are both short and flat. There were a lot of people on these trails and everyone looked like they were dying. It was such a hot day. If you are going to go to Badlands in the summer definitely bring lots of water and a hot because there are no trees to provide shade from the sun.
We spent about three hours at badlands National Park and were able to see a good chunk of it. I would recommend setting aside an entire day for it in order to really be able to take your time and explore. I would have liked to have gone on a few more trails, but it was insanely hot and we had a hotel reservation to get to in Colorado.
Badlands is not one the National Parks that you hear about too often but I thought it was really nice. It was so different from the rolling grassy hills of upstate NY that I just couldn’t stop looking at it. Have you been to the Badlands? What did you think of the landscape?