In southwestern South Dakota lies Badlands National Park, a 242,756 acre park filled with vast prairies and stunning eroded buttes, spires, and pinnacles.
For more than ten thousand years, Native Americans have hunted these lands, drawn to the area by fresh water and abundant bison, bighorn sheep, and rabbits. In more ancient times during the Eocene and Oligocene, rhinoceroses, camels, horses, and saber-toothed cats roamed this wild area — today, their fossilized remains make this a paleontological wonderland. Long before these early mammals roamed the earth, an ancient Cretaceous sea covered what is now the park, and the fossil remains of ammonites, fish, and marine reptiles can be found in the badlands as well.
Drawn to this striking landscape, filmmakers Doug Michaels and Joe Nugent spent two days exploring Badlands National Park, filming the clips seen in this short video that captures the beauty of the land and the wildlife that make this one of America’s most unique areas of wilderness.
If this film inspires you to visit the Badlands, the park is best experienced over two days. For travelers on a tight schedule, the Highway 240 Badlands Loop Road can be driven in about an hour and a half, including time for a few stops at scenic overlooks. Nature is best enjoyed slowly, but for your best likelihood to see wildlife, head to Sage Creek Rim Road, where Bison can usually be seen. Besides backcountry camping opportunities, two campgrounds can be found in the park. Cedar Pass Campground is located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and has 96 level sites with a great view of the badlands. Campsites are $16 per night or $28 per night with electrical hook-ups. Running water and flush toilets are available at this campground. For a more primitive camping experience without running water and with only pit toilets, sites in the Sage Creek Campground are available for free on a first come first serve basis.
If you’re headed into the backcountry of Badlands National Park, be sure to bring your camera and a good hiking guide like Bert Gildart’s Hiking the Black Hills Country