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Badlands attractions. Things to do in Badlands National Park

BY: Travel Lover | Category: Travel | Post Date: 2009-08-22

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Located in the South-West end of South Dakota, Badlands National Park is one of the richest Oligocene Fossil beds ever known to mankind. It was made a National Monument in 1939, and became Badlands National Park in 1978. Due to millions of years of harsh winds, rain and erosion, this 244,000 acres of land consists of ragged ridges, eroded buttles, saw toothed rock spires and pinnacles. It comprises of unique rock formations in the shapes of domes, curved canyons and tilted walls that have stripes of different colors scattered on them. It is true natural beauty that has been completely untouched by man to such an extent that for miles at a stretch you will no signs of civilization. It also comprises of the largest protected mixed-grass prairies ever found in United States.

This part of South Dakota is also known as 'Mako Sica' or 'Bad Land' simply because of the difficulty that the travelers had in crossing this area in the olden days. It was almost impossible to cross this area in those days due to partial erosion of sedimentary rocks. Today, tourists can comfortably enjoy the beauty of Badlands by foot, on a horseback or by Car.

Things to see at Badlands National Park
The Biological diversity of Badland National Park is remarkable. A large number of wildlife is found here living in their natural habitat. Some of the most common animals found here are Bison, pronghorn, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, big horn sheep, fox, the endangered black-footed ferret along with butterflies, turtles, snakes, bluebirds, vultures, eagles and hawks and much more. These creatures roam around freely in the area without any limitations or interference of any kind. A herd of more than 500 buffalo roam around the Sage Creek Wilderness Area. Deer and Antelopes are often spotted near the main roads and picnic areas. They are harmless as long as you don't harm them. Don't forget to get your cameras because you will love to take some first hand pictures of these animals. The black footed ferret which is the most endangered mammal in North America has been reintroduced into the park. A herd of more than 500 buffalo roam around the Sage Creek Wilderness Area.

Badland National Park is also popular for its rich Oligocene beds, preserving the world's greatest fossil beds. Millions of years old fossils of animals and other creatures have been found here. Skeletons of three-toed horses, dog size camels, sabretooth tigers, giant rhinoceros, large pigs and several other species have been found here. Till today, park officials often find prehistoric bones and skeletons in this area. Traces of some 11,000 years of human history have also been found here. While walking through the Badlands of South Dakota, one can visualize its human history and the geological changes that have taken place over millions of years

A part of the Badlands had been used by the army of United States to practice aerial bombing range which till today has some unexploded munitions. Tourists to this place also like to explore this area at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site that is located nearby.

Things to do in Badlands
There are several hiking and camping options for nature and wildlife lovers. However a permit may be needed for camping within Badlands National Park also hiking can get a little difficult due to jagged spires and buttles. Hunting is not allowed within the boundaries of the park but visitors can go fishing in lakes and rivers outside the park. Within the park their are no restrictions on where you can go if you are if you are exploring the place by foot but vehicles need to stay on the designated roads only.

Other Attractions Near Badlands National Park
There are several caves in the black hills which have unique formations in them and are open to visitors. Also the park is about 100 miles from Mount Rushmore, 42 miles from the Custer State Park and 81 miles from Rapid City.

The rocks here are soft, rockfalls are common so it is recommended to enjoy the rock formations from a distance instead of touching of trying to climb on them. Also, it is not advisable to feed or touch the animals since they can get dangerous on being disturbed. Badlands experience extreme weather conditions with very hot summers and freezing winters therefore, spring and autumn are the best times to visit.

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