Badlands National Park Unigrid
OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure
This is an audio-described version of the Badlands National Park unigrid brochure.
The first side of the brochure contains scientific, cultural, and historic information about the park. The top section, set in a scene of Badlands buttes, offers different perspectives of the Badlands from conservation writer Freeman Tilden, paleontologist Thaddeus Culbertson, and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The next section down, containing a mural of a past environment of geologic time, portrays and describes some the many different animals found in the park as fossils today. The third section describes prairie ecology and the rehabilitation of the Black-footed ferret, an endangered species living in the park. The final section discusses human history in the park, including narratives of paleo-Indians, Lakota, and homesteaders.
Beneath a set of pictures featuring bison, geologic formations, sunset views, and the White River, the second side of the brochure contains logistic information about the park. Introductory text includes safety rules, regulations, accessibility information, and weather averages. Beneath this text are two map insets, one of the larger southwestern-South Dakota area and one of the much smaller Cedar Pass area of the park, which contains all of the park's official trails. The large map of the park in full beneath them contains information about roads, trails, visitor centers, and overlooks.
OVERVIEW: Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park, located in South Dakota, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The 244,000-acre park is situated roughly 75 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota. Located in the midst of the Northern Great Plains, and named Mako Sica by the Lakota people, Badlands National Park's spectacular landscapes include native mixed-grass prairie, a large variety of native wildlife, amazing fossils, wonderful skyscapes, and compelling human history. We invite you to explore the park's natural beauty and majestic viewpoints. To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, listen to the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.
OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure
The front of the brochure includes more than a dozen photographs to illustrate the flora and fauna of the park, and its connections to human inhabitants. It also features a large illustration of what the park might have looked like in the distant past, when dinosaurs roamed the landscape.
IMAGE and TEXT: Of Time and the Badlands
Golden sunlight washes over the jagged peaks of crumbling badlands buttes, a partly cloudy periwinkle sky above. A white headline "Of Time and the Badlands," with the extensive text below beneath it, also in white, overlays the photo, covering about the lower third of the image.
CREDIT: Jeff Gnass.
RELATED TEXT: For centuries humans have viewed South Dakota's celebrated Badlands with a mix of dread and fascination. The Lakota knew the place as mako sica. Early French trappers called the area les mauvaises terres a traverser. Both mean "bad lands." Conservation writer Freeman Tilden described the region as "peaks and valleys of delicately banded colors -- colors that shift in the sunshine, ... and a thousand tints that color charts do not show. In the early morning and evening when shadows are cast upon the infinite peaks or on a bright moonlit night when the whole region seems a part of another world, the Badlands will be an experience not easily forgotten." Paleontologist Thaddeus Culbertson had another reaction: "Fancy yourself on the hottest day in summer in the hottest spot of such a place without water -- without an animal and scarce an insect astir -- without a single flower to speak pleasant things to you and you will have some idea of the utter loneliness of the Bad Lands."
The peaks, gullies, buttes, and wide prairies of the Badlands can be challenging to cross, yet they have long attracted the interest and praise of travelers. "I've been about the world a lot, and pretty much over our own country," wrote architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935, "but I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands... What I saw gave me an indescribably sense of mysterious elsewhere -- a distant architecture, ethereal..., an endless supernatural world more spiritual than earth but created out of it."
The Badlands are a place of extremes. Your travels here may produce conflicting responses. You may visit in summer and curse the heat and the violent lightning storms, yet be excited by the wildlife and wildflowers. You may come in winter, chilled by the cold and the winds that roar unhindered out of the north, and still marvel at the exquisite beauty of the moonlight glistening on the snow-dusted buttes. Whatever your feelings about the Badlands, you will not come away unaffected.
Stay awhile if you can, and let the Badlands reveal themselves to you. The so-called emptiness of the plains is full of traces of ancient life. You may see eagles hunt, winds outstretched over grasslands that seem to go on forever.
Above all you will experience quiet, the near absence of human noise. As you explore, keep in mind that this is a national park. All fossils, rocks, plants, and animals are protected and must remain where you find them.
The more you observe, the more accustomed you will become to the Badlands landscape. With this familiarity will come an appreciation of the park's biological diversity. There is a rich and varied plant community here, including the largest mixed-grass prairie in the National Park System. Wildlife abounds. Coyotes, butterflies, turtles, vultures, snakes, bluebirds, bison, and prairie dogs are a few of the residents. Approached with curiosity and care, the Badlands will provide you with endless pleasure and fascination.
TEXT: Shaping of the Land and Life
This section of the park brochure describes the ancient life in the Badlands region. Paleontologists learn about these animals and the lives they may have led by studying fossils.
TEXT: In the Distant Past
About 75 million years ago, the Earth's climate was warmer than it is now, and a shallow sea covered the region we call the Great Plains. Stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and from western Iowa to western Wyoming, the sea teemed with life. In today's Badlands, the bottom of that sea appears as a gray-black sedimentary rock called Pierre (pronounced "peer") shale. This layer is a rich source of fossils, for creatures sank to the bottom of the sea when they died and over time became fossils. Many kinds of fossilized animals have been found in the park. Baculites, an extinct cephalopod, had a squid-like body with a long cylindrical shell tightly coiled at one end. Chambers in the shell contained either gas or liquid for buoyancy control. Clams, crabs, and snails in great numbers have also been found. Outside the park, the Pierre shale has yielded abundant remains of ancient fish; mosasaurs, giant marine lizards; pterosaurs, flying reptiles; and Hesperonis, a diving bird something like a modern loon. Why have rocks in the park, which are so rich in invertebrate fossils, yielded so few marine creatures with backbones? Questions such as these puzzle paleontologists and earth scientists who continue to search, hoping to answer questions about the Earth's past.
IMAGE: Fossil Turtle Shell
A white, broken up turtle shell fossil sits on dried Badlands mud. Apart from the brokenness and white, chalky color, the domed fossil closely resembles a modern turtle shell.CAPTION: Turtle shell fossil.
TEXT: Land Emerges
Eons passed. Continental plates pushed and shoved, leading to a period of mountain-building in the ancestral Rocky Mountains. This caused the land under the sea to rise, forcing the water to retreat and drain away. In time, the area that we now call the Badlands was exposed to sunshine and air, yet it looked nothing like the landscape that we see today.
The climate was humid and warm; rainfall abundant. A dark and dense subtropical forest developed on the land. It flourished for millions of years. Eventually, the climate cooled and dried. The forest gave way, first to savannah, then to grassland much like the present landscape. Today, after a heavy rainstorm in the Badlands, vivid red bands stand out against the buff tones of the buttes. These are fossilized soils that make up much of the Badlands rocks. Fossil soils tell us a great deal about the climatic history of the Badlands, and they also impart much of the colorful banding to Badlands rocks. The loose, crumbling rocks formed from these ancient soils hold one of the greatest collections of fossil mammals on Earth.
IMAGE: Oreodonts' Jaws
Fossil jaws of an ancient mammal known as an oreodont sticks out of a Badlands' formation. The teeth resemble the broad, flat teeth of sheep, but they are dark brown.
CAPTION: Two fossilized jaws from
animals) found in the park.
TEXT: Badlands Fossils
An array of extinct animals, from enormous to very small, once ranged the area now in Badlands National Park. Some lived in the subtropical forests that flourished after the retreat of the inland sea; others lived in the savannahs and grasslands that came in the years afterward.
Some of these creatures whose fossils have been found here appear in the illustration above. It is based on scientific knowledge of the Oligocene, a geologic epoch that lasted from 23 to 35 million years ago. Our views of vegetation and animal structure will change as the fossil record reveals more about the bygone times.
Leptomeryx, small and deerlike, had even-toed hooves and browsed on stems and leaves of early Oligocene vegetation. Sheeplike Oreodonts were abundant; their name means mountain tooth. Archaeotherium, a distant relative of pigs, had sharp canines and fed on carrion and plants. Mesohippus, an ancestor of modern horses, had three toes instead of one hoof. Hoplophoneus, one of the earliest mammals to be called a saber-tooth cat, was the size of a leopard. Subhyracodon, an agile rhinoceros, ate plants. Ischromys, a small squirrel-like rodent probably lived in trees and ate fruits and nuts. Metamynodon was a massive rhinoceros that, like the hippopotamus, spent much of its time in water. Paleolagus, perhaps an ancestral rabbit, nibbled on plants.
IMAGE: Oligocene Mural
A mural of many animals living in a forested environment by a lake. There are 13 mammals and two birds with a flock of four flying in the distance. Some animals look familiar, like in the foreground, where a large saber-toothed cat (Hoplophoneus) hunts a small horse-like critter without a mane or tail (Mesohippus). Just beyond them, three small, hornless rhinoceroses gather in a group, shaded by surrounding trees. Large hornless rhinoceroses (Metamynodon) bathe in a lake in the right-hand corner. Most of the animals in the mural have no modern analog, like three small, striped sheep-like creatures (Oreodonts) gathered in a group close to an enormous hog-like creature (Archaeotherium) with large teeth. A black bird (Cracid) perches on a nearby tree branch overlooking a small rabbit (Paleolagus) in the forest, bathed in golden sunlight.
CAPTION: Creatures from left to right: Leptomeryx, Archaeotherium, Oreodonts, Mesohippus, Subhyracodon, Hoplophoneus, Metamynodon, Cracid, and Paleolagus.
CREDIT: Douglas Henderson.
IMAGE: Oreodont Painting
DESCRIPTION: A brown sheep-like animal with light stripes banded around its back toward its belly poses in profile. It has the face of a sheep, four legs which each end in two toes, and a long, dog-like tail.
CREDIT: Douglas Henderson.
QUOTE and TEXT: The Prairie
"The prairie is not forgiving. Anything that is shallow -- the easy optimism of the homesteader... the tress whose roots don't reach groundwater -- will dry up and blow away." - Kathleen Norris, Dakota
Badlands prairie contains nearly 60 species of grass, the foundation for a complex community of plants and animals. The prairie once sprawled across one-third of North America. Today patchwork remnants of native grasslands represent adaptation to millions of years of changing conditions and sustain a diverse citizenry. Grasslands (prairies) occur in areas that are too dry to support trees but too wet to be deserts. Badlands National Park has mixed-grass prairie: tall-grass species such as big bluestem and prairie cordgrass, and shot-grasses such as blue grama and buffalograss. Hundreds of species of wildflowers and forbs grow here too. The landscape, once a forest, now contains plants and animals uniquely adapted to what appears to be harsh and unforgiving conditions. Grasses, able to withstand high winds, long spells of dry weather, and frequent fires, thrived. Grazing animals became abundant and grasses, better suited to withstand constant trampling and grazing, spread ande overtook the ancient forests. Today, many animals -- black-tailed prairie dogs, mule deer, pronghorn (often called antelope), bison (often called buffalo), coyotes, and bighorn sheep -- adapt to, and even thrive in the protected conditions of Badlands National Park.
IMAGE: Narrow-Leaf Yucca
A narrow-leaf yucca's puffy yellow flowers bloom, bursting out of the plant's thin, spiky limbs with a pale blue sky ahead.
CAPTION: Narrow-leaf yucca.
CREDIT: Martin Kleinsorge.
IMAGE: Juniper Tree
DESCRIPTION: A single juniper tree, with an exposed trunk and dark green shrubby leaves, stands alone in a grassy, rolling prairie. The prairie is greenish-yellow, colored this way from a mixture of grasses and yellow sweet clover.
CAPTION: Badlands Wilderness Area.
CREDIT: Martin Kleinsorge.
IMAGE: Prairie Dog
DESCRIPTION: A light-brown prairie dog, looking like a chubby squirrel (although with a shorter, skinnier tail) sits on its hind legs facing forward. Its hands, with long and pointy fingers, are gathered in front of its body.
CAPTION: Prairie dog.
CREDIT: Martin Kleinsorge.
TEXT: Return of a Native
In 1981 the scientific community received astonishing news. Black-footed ferrets thought to be extinct since the last captive specimen died in 1979, were discovered alive and well in the wilds of Wyoming. The news was encouraging, but the long-term prognosis for the ferrets was not promising. Dependent on prairies as their prime habitat and prairie dogs as their food source, these relatives of weasels are among the rarest mammals on Earth.
Shrinking prairie habitat, destruction of prairie dog colonies by humans, and spread of diseases left the ferrets one step away from extinction.
Soon after the ferrets were discovered, disease ran through the colony. By 1985 only 18 ferrets survived. Braving controversy and accepting the risks of intervention, US Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and state of Wyoming authorities captured the ferrets and launched a campaign to save them. Success came quickly. At seven breeding facilities, the ferrets flourished and multiplied. With high hopes and little fanfare, 36 black-footed ferrets were released in the park in the fall of 1994. In 1995, two litters of ferrets were born in the wild, an important milestone on their road to recovery. More captive-raised black-footed ferrets were released through 1999 with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining population. Today biologists are optimistic about the continued success of ferrets in the region. Like reintroduced bison and bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets have once again taken their place and added influence to the northern prairies.
IMAGE: Black-Footed Ferret
DESCRIPTION: A black-footed ferret sticks its head up and out of prairie grasses. It has a long, slender dark-brown body which lightens in color as it gets closer to the ferret's head, except for where black covers the ferret's eye region, making it look like a masked bandit.
CAPTION: Black-footed ferret.
TEXT: Life and Death in a Hard Country
Though the Badlands seem inhospitable at first glance, this land has supported humans for more than 11,000 years. The earliest people here were mammoth hunters. Much later they were followed by nomadic tribes whose lives centered on hunting bison. The Arikara was the first tribe known to have inhabited the White River area. By the mid-18th century, they were replaced by Sioux, or Lakota, who adopted the use of horses from Spaniards and came to dominate the region. Though the bison-hunting Lakota flourished during the next 100 years, their dominion on the prairie was short-lived. French fur trappers were the first of many European arrivals who, in time, would supplant the Lakota. Trappers were followed by soldiers, miners, cattle farmers, and homesteaders who forever changed the face of the prairie. After 40 years of struggle, culminating in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, the Lakota were confined to reservations. Cattle replaced bison; wheat field replaced prairies; and, in time, gasoline-powered vehicles replaced horses.
Both Lakota and homesteaders shaped this land. Lakota hunted and harvested what they needed to support their way of life. The bison that played such a vital role for the Lakota were eradicated by non-Indian buffalo hunters. Only the Lakota paintings, drawings, and artistic crafts remained -- tangible memories of their lost homelands and natural environment.
Late 19th century photographer captured the images of these pioneers as they built new lives, showing the hard work that typified the process.
IMAGE 1 of 3
DESCRIPTION: Two male homesteaders, one on horseback and another holding his horse in one hand and a lasso in the other, pose outside of a small cabin-like homesteading house.
CAPTION: Building a log house, cutting sod bricks from the prairie, and collecting cow chips for fuel were backbreaking tasks that homesteaders faced as they worked to make this land their own.
IMAGE 2 of 3
DESCRIPTION: A man wearing a dark hat and apron stands in the middle of a field next to a horse-drawn vehicle.
CREDIT: Nebraska State Historical Society.
IMAGE 3 of 3:
DESCRIPTION: A woman wearing a long dress and bonnet pushes a wheelbarrow overfilled with cow dung, known as cow chips, to use as fuel for fire.
CREDIT: Kansas State Historical Society.
IMAGE: Lakota Woman
DESCRIPTION: A Native American woman looks at us, wearing circular earrings, two long braids, a beaded necklace, a shirt, and a vest-like garment created from elongated beads.
CAPTION: By contrast the Lakota
touched the land differently. This painting on a bison
robe (shown in the background) chronicles their life as nomadic
hunters—a pattern soon
extinguished by the new
OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure
The second side of the brochure offers more photographs of the park, including a close-up image of a bison and dramatic photographs of the landscape and its features. It also offers three maps: 1. A general navigational map for the immediate area around the park. 2. A detailed map of the Cedar Pass Area, and, 3. A large-scale map of the park and its surroundings, covering dozens of miles of territory, including the Buffalo Gap National Grassland, and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
TEXT: Exploring the Badlands
Travelers come to Badlands National Park for many reasons. Some are lured by the unusual rock formations, which reminded early explorer Dr. John Evans of "some magnificent city of the dead, where the labor and the genius of forgotten nations had left behind them a multitude of monuments of art and skill." Others come to camp, photograph wildlife, or search for birds or flowers. Many are professional or amateur paleontologists who come to study fossil remains of Badlands' ancient life. For all visitors there is much ground to cover, for the park consists of three units totaling more than 240,000 acres.
TEXT: Three Park Units
North Unit -- This is the best known and most easily explored area. It includes the 64,000-acre Badlands Wilderness Area, Badlands Loop Road with scenic overlooks and trailheads, and Cedar Pass, where you will find the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, open year-round, and Cedar Pass Lodge, open seasonally.
Stronghold and Palmer Creek Units -- These areas are located within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The Stronghold and Palmer creek units are managed under a cooperative agreement between the Oglala Lakota and the National Park Service. In the Stronghold Unit, the White River Visitor Center is open seasonally. Contact the park for details.
TEXT: Expect the Unexpected
There is much to do in Badlands. When you drive the Badlands Loop Road, you will find overlooks and signs explaining the landscape. You may walk a self-guiding trail, set offcrosscountry with a backpack, or attend a summer evening amphitheater program. Bring your binoculars! If you are lucky, you may spot bison or pronghorn grazing, spot a coyote stalking rodents, or catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep delicately picking their way across a steep slope. A visit to Roberts Prairie Dog Town, five miles west of the Pinnacles Entrance on the unpaved Sage Creek Rim Road, gives you a chance to visit a different "home town."
TEXT: Help Us Protect the Park
More than one million visitors come to Badlands National Park each year. It is important to follow these few rules to preserve the park's wonders. Your care and thoughtfulness will help preserve the park for you and future generations. Be advised that all plants, animals, rocks, minerals, and fossils within Badlands National Park are protected by federal law. Observe, photograph, and admire everything you see, but do not collect, pick, or disturb anything you find here. Do not feed wildlife. They can become dependent on human food and lose their ability to provide for themselves.
TEXT: Safety and Regulations
Weather can change rapidly in any season and can turn out quite differently from the forecast posted in the visitor center. Dress appropriately, drive with extra caution during stormy or icy conditions, and seek shelter from the thundershowers, hailstorms, and occasional tornadoes that sometimes descend on the Badlands with sudden fury.
Carry valuables with you or lock them in the trunk of your car.
Seeing bison up close in the wild may be a new and exciting experience but it is extremely dangerous. This is not a zoo. The animals are wild -- and they can attack. Never approach a bison closely. They can run faster than 30 miles per hour.
Rattlesnakes, spiders, and stinging insects live here.
Hikers should carry maps, a compass extra clothing, and lots of water. There is no potable water in the backcountry.
The sun is strong here, even in winter. Use sunscreen and wear a hat.
Badlands rock is soft, and rockfalls are common. Admire the formations at a distance, and do not climb on them. Seemingly indestructible, these buttes are quite fragile.
For firearms regulations check the park website.
TEXT: Emergencies call 911For emergencies, please call 911.
TEXT: Badlands Weather Averages
January: High of 34, low of 11, 0.29 inches of precipitation
February: High of 40, low of 16, 0.48 inches of precipitation
March: High of 48, low of 24, 0.90 inches of precipitation
April: High of 62, low of 36, 1.83 inches of precipitation
May: High of 72, low of 46, 2.75 inches of precipitation
June: High of 83, low of 56, 3.12 inches of precipitation
July: High of 92, low of 62, 1.94 inches of precipitation
August: High of 91, low of 61, 1.45 inches of precipitation
September: High of 81, low of 51, 1.23 inches of precipitation
October: High of 68, low of 39, 0.90 inches of precipitation
November: High of 50, low of 39, 0.4 inches of precipitation
December: High of 39, low of 17, 0.30 inches of precipitation
DESCRIPTION: A bison, with horns on either side of its large black head and a furry brown coat, wades through pale green prairie grasses.
CAPTION: Bison near Sage Creek Rim Road.
CREDIT: Carl Heilman.
RELATED TEXT: Colors, landforms, and wildlife always seem unexpected here. Just when you think you know what to expect, you round a bend—to find a surprise
IMAGE: Door Trail
DESCRIPTION: Golden sunlight warms the east faces of buttes on Door Trail. The photo focuses on a major peak, but layered badlands formations extend in every direction. CAPTION: Sculpted spires above Door Trail.
CREDIT: M. Kleinsorge.
IMAGE: Toadstool Rock
DESCRIPTION: A toadstool rock, which consists of a large, resistant block being held up by a narrow column of softer rock beneath which has eroded away, sits in a valley of badlands formations with green prairie in the background.
CAPTION: Toadstool Rock, Norbeck Pass.
CREDIT: NPS / Larry McAfee.
IMAGE: White River
DESCRIPTION: The milky waters of the White River run into banks of Badlands terrain, with some grasses growing in the area.
CAPTION: Suspended silt gives the White River its name.
CREDIT: M. Kleinsorge.
IMAGE: Setting Moon
DESCRIPTION: The moon sets just over a notch in a Badlands formation, the sky behind it melting from purple to pink as it moves away from the horizon.
CAPTION: Setting moon from Badlands Loop Road near Cedar Pass Lodge.
CREDIT: Kathleen Norris Cook.
IMAGE: Yellow Mounds
DESCRIPTION: From above and looking down into water drainage in the formations, where rain has cut into the layers of the Badlands. Nearest and most prominent is a bright yellow layer capped by a vibrant red layer. Beyond these layers towards the horizon, the Badlands return to their usual brown and buff colors.
CAPTION: Yellow mounds near Dillon Pass.
CREDIT: M. Kleinsorge.
TEXT: Travel in and about the Badlands
Westbound travelers on I-90 should use exit 131. SD 240 (Badlands Loop Road) leads to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. After SD 240 passes through the park, it connects with I-90 in Wall. Eastbound travelers should do the reverse: begin in Wall and end at I-90 at exit 131.
Most park roads are paved, but they are winding and steep in places. Unpaved road may be slipper in winter or during thunderstorms. Use caution.
Established hiking trails are short; they are easy to moderately difficult. Crosscountry hikers should take water, a map, and compass, and should wear or carry appropriate clothing. Ask a ranger about your route before you start your hike.
MAP: Southwestern South Dakota
DESCRIPTION: This relatively small map shows a large area of southwestern South Dakota. The north side of the map is bordered by I-90, which connects the following: the town of Kadoka to the East, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240), the town of Wall, and the town of Rapid City to the West. The south side of the map is bordered by Route 18, which is close to Nebraska, the state South of South Dakota. The map ends to the east after Kadoka and to the West at the state border in the Black Hills National Forest.
Badlands National Park makes the odd shape of a slightly squished C. The South Unit intersects with an orange expanse in the center and East of the map labeled "Pine Ridge Indian Reservation."
Various sites are listed in the Western part of the map representing the Black Hills, including Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
TEXT: Cedar Pass Area
Most visitors stop in the Cedar Pass area. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center, open year-round, offers information, exhibits, a bookstore, and restrooms. Park stadd can answer questions and help plan your visit.
Cedar Pass Lodge, near the visitor center, is open in spring, summer, and fall. The amphitheater and Cedar Pass Campground are also within walking distance. Ask at the visitor center for more details.
Within five miles of the visitor center you'll find scenic overlooks, several trailheads, and three self-guiding trails. Fossil Exhibit Trail is wheelchair-accessible. Cliff Shelf Nature Trail and Door Trail are moderately strenuous ways to explore Badlands' rock formations. Read the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail pamphlet for an introduction to the plants and animals that live in the park.
MAP: Cedar Pass
DESCRIPTION: This small rectangular map shows the Cedar Pass area, a roughly 6-mile by 3-mile area in the eastern part of the North Unit. The Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) makes a wide U shape through the inset, entering in the Northeast corner and exiting in the Northwest corner.
The easternmost trails on the Loop Road include the shorter trails of Door Trail, Window Trail, Notch Tail, and Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. Connecting both arms of the U shape are two longer trails: Castle Trail and Medicine Root Loop. The southernmost trail on this section of the Loop Road is the short but strenuous Saddle Pass Trail. The westernmost trail on this section of the Loop Road is the short Fossil Exhibit Trail.
The southern part of the U-shape of the Loop Road includes the Ben Reifel Visitor Center (Park Headquarters), Cedar Pass Lodge (open seasonally), amphitheater, dump station, Cedar Pass Campground, and Interior Entrance Booth.
Symbols indicate restrooms at Door Trail, the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, and Fossil Exhibit Trail.
MAP: Badlands National Park
DESCRIPTION: The map of Badlands National Park represents the shape of the park, sites within the park, nearby towns and attractions, and roadways. It is a large map, covering about half of the page.
The North Unit of the park is bordered to the north by I-90 and to the south by highway 44. It is roughly the shape of a spoon, with the handle to the east and the bowl to the west. Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) is a 30-mile paved road going through the eastern half of this unit, looping from I-90 at exit 131 back out to I-90 at exit 110. On the Loop Road, there are 10 overlooks and two picnic areas. Halfway through the Badlands Loop Road is Conata Road, a 9-mile dirt-gravel road which connects the Loop Road (north) to Highway 44 (south). There are two campgrounds in the North Unit: Cedar Pass Campground on the eastern side and Sage Creek Campground on the western side. The thicker western side of the North Unit contains Sage Creek Rim Road, a 30-mile dirt gravel road going through the 64,000-acre Badlands Wilderness Area. Sage Creek Rim Road connects the Badlands Loop Road with Highway 44 to the South.
Close to the transition of the North Unit to the South Unit is an unpaved, high-clearance vehicles only road leading up to Sheep Mountain Table. This road can be accessed from Route 27, which is south off of Highway 44.
The South Unit and Palmer Creek Unit are both located on the southern half of the map, which is shaded in orange to represent the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The South Unit is also shaped roughly like a spoon, but with the handle pointed northeast and the bowl pointed southwest. Unlike the North Unit, there are no roads going through the South Unit, only around. The South Unit (west) and Palmer Creek Unit (east) are separated by Route 27. The remainder of the South Unit is bordered to the south by Route 2 and to the west by highway 40. The South Unit contains one overlook, Red Shirt Table Overlook, on the West off of highway 40. There are no trails in the South Unit, but landmarks like Galigo Table, Stronghold Table, Plenty Star Table, Cedar Butte, and Blindman Table. The White River Visitor Center is located in the southeast corner of the South Unit and is open seasonally.
The Palmer Creek Unit is an isolated tear-drop shaped parcel of land to the east of the South Unit. Palmer Creek runs through this unit. It is surrounded on all sides by private land.
There is a legend at the bottom of the map indicating various symbols. Lines can mean unpaved road (solid black line), unpaved road high-clearance vehicles only (thick dotted black line), a trail (a thin dotted black line), a paved road (solid red line). Yellow fill indicates the wilderness area. Small black dots indicate overlooks. A building with a flag indicates a ranger station. A symbol of a man and woman divided by a vertical line indicates bathrooms. A picnic table indicates a picnic area. A black tent indicates a campground. A green tent indicates a primitive campground. A north arrow and scale are provided in the lower left-hand corner.
We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For information, go to the visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check our website.
OVERVIEW: More Information
For More Information:
MAILING ADDRESS: Badlands National Park
P.O. Box 6
Interior, SD 57750-0006
Badlands National Park is one of over 400 units in the National Park System. Learn more about national parks at www.nps.gov.