Badlands National Park


Badlands National Park, located in South Dakota, is often referred to as “The Wall”. It is a huge natural barrier extending over 100 miles through dry plains ridging the landscape and sculpted into pinnacles and gullies by the power of water. Travelers going through the upper prairie a few miles to the north could easily miss this park; however, if you opt to traverse the lower prairie to the south you can’t miss it, due to its high rise.

Most of the Badlands Wall is preserved within the boundaries of the park. While it may not be classified as everyone’s idea of beauty, its theatrical feel can’t be denied. It has often times been compared to an enormous stage; colorful, dramatic and not quite real. Over millions of years, water has been carving away as much as three centimeters or more in some places yearly. Prehistoric animals, like titanothere and archaeotherium, also once road this park. Their fossilized bones are scattered everywhere. This park claims over a million visitors yearly.

In 1939, the park was declared a national monument and in 1979, Badlands acquired the South (Stronghold) Unit, adding another dimension to the drama. This stretch of land now belongs to the Oglala. It was on Stronghold Table in 1890 that the final Ghost Dance took place just a few weeks before more than 150 Lakota’s were killed at Wounded Knee, 25 miles south.

Interesting Facts on The Park

  1. Badlands is home to one of the world’s richest deposits of mammal fossil beds.
  2. The second largest American Indian Reservation in the United States, The Oglala Lakota Nation, co-manages half of the park.
  3. On an average yearly basis, the park averages an inch of erosion.