Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How big is Badlands National Park??

A:Badlands National Park is 381 square miles or 244,000 acres.

Q: What is the highest point in the park?
A: The highest point in the park is 3,247 feet or 1,009 meters, located at the Pinnacles Entrance Station.

Q: How much precipitation does the park receive every year?
A: The average annual precipitation is 16 inches

Q: Are dinosaur fossils found in the Badlands?
A: The spectacular formations found in Badlands National Park date from the late Cretaceous, Eocene, and Oligocene epochs. Although the park does not contain any dinosaur fossils, the rapidly eroding layers contain marine fossils and an incredibly rich diversity of extinct mammals from the Age of Mammals. Ancestors of the modern day rhinoceros, horse, pig, and cat are eroding out of various layers throughout the park. Fossils from early birds, reptiles, and invertebrates can also be found.

Q: How did the park get its name?
A: A: Badlands National Park is located in the White River Badlands and was called mako sica (mako, land and sica, bad) by the Sioux Indians. The term badlands generally refers to an area that is difficult to travel through primarily because of the rugged terrain and lack of water. The fascinating landscape within the park erodes at a rate of about 1 inch per year, providing an ever-changing landscape.

Q: Can I collect things in Badlands National Park?
A: All collecting of rocks, minerals, plants, fossils or cultural objects (i.e. arrowheads) is illegal and punishable by a fine.

Q: How many fossils have been discovered in the park to date?
A: It is hard to know how many fossils have been discovered to date. There is no way to get an estimate; however, an incredible amount of fossils have been found. For over 150 years, fossils have been excavated from the area in and around the park. Long before the Badlands became a protected National Park site, anyone with a shovel could conduct research in the park and remove its fossil resources.

Q: Are there hiking trails in Badlands National Park?
A: Badlands National Park has five trails, varying from one-fourth mile to eight miles in length for exploring park features. The two recommended trails are the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail (.5 mile) or Fossil Exhibit Trail (.25 mile). The remainder of the park is open to exploration using a topographic map and a compass, but please remember to leave rocks, animals and plants as you find them.

Q: What is the best time of day to view the Badlands formations?
A: Visually, the Badlands are at their best early or late in the day when deep shadows define their forms.

Q: How far is Badlands National Park from Mount Rushmore?
A: Cedar Pass Lodge in Badlands National Park, is located 114 miles or 1.5 - 2 hours from Mount Rushmore National Memorial and only an hour from Rapid City.

Q: What are the colored layers we see in the Badland formations?
A: The yellow and red layers in the badlands formations are fossilized soils, called paleosols. Fossil root traces, burrows, and animal bones found within the soils provide scientists with evidence of environmental and climatic changes that occurred in the badlands over time.

 

 

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