Badlands National Park is an absolute must see in South Dakota! The loop road provides an easy overview of the park from the comfort of your own vehicle and the scenery is just stunning. The windy road covers all the main highlight areas showing off the natural beauty of the area; the amazing rock formations, wildlife and vast plains. We spent 2 full days in the park, driving the loop road at both dusk and during the day. My recommendation would be to drive it at sunset - the ever changing colors the setting sun casts on the rocks is unforgettable. Just be careful in large RV's - the road can get narrow at points...
This short, fun and moderately easy hike is a definite favorite of mine. You don't have to be a serious hiker to complete this trail, it only takes about 45 minutes both ways. The trail winds its way around some small stream beds before reaching a giant ladder which hikers must clamber up to continue the trail. This part of the trek was good fun and made a nice change from normal hikes. The trail comes to an end at a fantastic lookout called The Notch. This provides unspoiled views of the flat plains and grasslands below, it also gives you a side on view of The Wall (separating the low and high areas of badlands). Just make sure to take your camera!!
This trail makes up one of three easy/moderate hikes in the area, Notch and Door being the other two. All three are definitely worth hiking although in my opinion, this gives the best and most striking overview of the rock formations in the area. The short trail follows a boardwalk until you reach a natural 'window' in the rocks, where visitors can peer through and be wowed by the spectacular views. Dusk is the perfect time to be hiking in the area, the setting sun really brings the place to life.
Stretching over 100's of miles, the Badlands Wall is a huge natural barrier that separates the high plains form the low. The result of millions of years of erosion have caused the wall to be sculpted into a series of sharp pinnacles, gullies and ridges. The Saddle Pass Trail follows one of these natural gullies, from the low plain it winds its way up through the steep terrain giving a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with these fantastic rock formations. After about 45 minutes to 1 hour the trail suddenly levels off - you've done it, you've climbed the Badlands Wall. Now turn around and make sure you take in the incredible views of the low plains.
Don't try this hike in wet weather, the path can get extremely muddy and slippery so take care.
Fantastic staff who were both very helpful and incredibly informative. You can purchase the usual information books, maps and souvenirs but the main highlight is the exhibit on Badlands National Park. It takes you on a journey through history teaching you everything you could possibly want to know about the geology, flora and fauna of the area. There are a few 'hands on' display which are always good for the kids. Make sure to allow a good 30 minutes in here.
Oh and the view from the back of the visitor centre is spectacular at sunset - check out the picture!!