Spires of rock and mudstone dot the horizon along Castle Trail in this image of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. For a place called ‘badlands,’ this corner of the US outdoes itself with beautiful natural features—and important ties to the past. First established as a national monument in 1939, it’s long been known to paleontologists as a fossil-rich destination, with discoveries here providing us with a tiny window into life some 33 million years ago. Today the Badlands marks the anniversary of the date in 1978 when it officially became a national park, ensuring that this rugged terrain is protected for years to come.
Badlands National Park is a national park of the United States located in southwestern South Dakota. It protects 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. The park is managed by the National Park Service.
Website: www.nps.gov/badl/ Address: 25216 Ben Reifel Road, Interior, SD 57750 Phone: (605) 433-5361 Established: Jan 29, 1939 Area: 379.31 sq miles (982.40 km²) Hours: See opening and closing times on official site Annual visitors: 996,263 (2016)
White River Badlands. See source for a discussion of the geology and fossils there.