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Badlands National Park (40)

One half of the Badlands Park is within an Indian reservation called Pine Ridge. Several sites in this area are sacred to the Oglala Lakota Indians. This Indian tribe along with park service co-manages and protects the park. This protected area is known as the South Unit. This area also contains a historic site known as the Minuteman Missile Site. This name came into being during World War II when the military used the area as a practice for aerial bombing. Much clean up has been done of the area, however there remains unexploded munition to this day.

Visitors to the Badlands also have the option to hike the trails and camp on the two campgrounds which are Sage Creek Campgrounds and Cedar Pass. Backpackers will take along on their hike a topographical map, because somewhere within the over 63,000 acres of wilderness one usually has fun getting lost. One necessity to bring along on your trip is comfortable and durable hiking shoes or boots. Visitors can also use cycles, vehicles and or horseback to explore the area.

Within the Badlands there are some endangered species such as the black-footed ferret. The visitor is able to do the unusual while visiting the Badlands such as riding a Buffalo herd. These bison are generally 2,000 pounds and can be found grazing on the prairie grass. The visitor will also see prairie dogs, fox and sheep. Within the park there have been ancient old horses, small creatures resembling deer, and saber toothed cats, in addition to other prehistoric animals that once roamed the areas. This area millions of years ago what home to a variety of marine life.

The Badlands National Park has seven hiking trails that are yet long enough to give the visitor a good look into the area. Each of these trails offers a unique experience. Such as, one trail will give the visitor a look into the past over 30,000 years ago.

As one tours the Badlands they soon discover that the area is a definite work of art. The environment of the Badlands is forever changing the earth's area. The water and wind have eroded the land and have naturally sculptured into the sand what resembles sand castles. The prime time for a beautiful visit is at sunrise or sunset, when the colors are in full awesome view. The sand displays brilliant colors such as pinks, purples and reds.

Because the Badlands experience constant rains, with a cycle of freezing and thawing it has caused millions of years of a changing surfaces causing the brilliant colors one can view. Don't forget to bring with you your camera and capture some of these places in a photo.

The normal environment of the Badlands is hot and dry so there is of course a high risk of fire. When visitors follow the precautions set forth there will be no problems. Thousands of people come each year to the Badlands. Visitors can buy a seven day pass which constitutes an entrance fee.

This National Park will also offer free days throughout the year. National Park Week is free and celebrated from April 21-29. Outdoors Day is June 9, on November 10-12 Veterans Day weekend is free, and on September 29 is Public Lands Day. No matter what vehicle the visitor has one pass is needed per vehicle.

If you have never paid a visit to the Badlands National Park plan on visiting this year, for a wonderful and unique experience. Enjoy the fresh air and many trails as you explore areas of this wonder park. The experience is once in a lifetime, so be sure not to forget that camera so that you can relive your experiences with friends and family for years to come.

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