The rugged rock formations of Badlands National Park contrasts with its open prairie landscape. The 244,000 acres of the park include easy and short trails, some of which are only a quarter-mile in length. Others are more moderate and strenuous, covering up to 10 miles. Dangerous drop-offs and sudden changes in weather pose threats in an untamed and inhospitable land. Summers are hot and dry with temperatures up to 100-degrees Fahrenheit at times. The best weather is during April through October. No matter the time of season when you visit, be sure to cover up skin and wear lotion of at least SPF 15 to avoid sunburn.
Familiarize yourself with the distances between the park’s entrances. While you can find a fueling station in the park, you might have to travel a great distance before arriving there. This is not the environment one wants to be stranded in. Also, do not rely on cellphone or GPS devices. Your cellphone will not work in the park. After a few minutes in the park, you can easily feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere, cut off from the civilized world.
Amazing wildlife wander about the park. In addition to the free-roaming bison herds, visitors have seen black-footed ferrets, prairie rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders, bighorn sheep and deer. Stop by the town of prairie dogs, but don’t get too close: they could possibly be carrying the bubonic plague. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes as it’s easy to get stuck by a cactus spine when bare skin is exposed. The most common park accidents are falls from inappropriate footwear.
Be sure to visit the park’s website to find out information about the different locations of the park entrances and information about backcountry hiking (overnight hiking trips with special camping requirements). Here, you will also learn about special offers and free dates when there is no charge for admission.