South Dakota July 12, 2017
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Visiting South Dakota’s Badlands National Park
If you’ve never visited South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, you’ll likely make a few critical errors on your first trip. It’s ok – most everyone does at least some of the following things. But you’ll have a much more enjoyable trip if you avoid these nine mistakes.
1. Only allow one day to see the entire park.
The National Park Service recommends that you spend two days exploring Badlands National Park. The park encompasses 242,756 acres, and to thoroughly explore it, you'll want to take at least a couple hikes. One day just isn't enough to fully appreciate the beauty of this place.
2. Let your fear of wildlife keep you from enjoying the trails.
Yes, there are rattlesnakes at Badlands National Park. But honestly, many people never see one during their visit. Stay on the trails, especially through areas of high grass. Pay attention to where you're stepping and where you put your hands while climbing, and you'll avoid snakes.
3. Think you're the bison whisperer.
While you shouldn't be overly afraid of the wildlife in the park, a good, healthy respect for the bison who live here is advised. These thousand-pound animals are usually quite docile, but you shouldn't get too close. Park regulations require a distance of at least 100 feet at all times.
4. Don't bring enough water.
It's hot and dry at Badlands National Park, especially during the summer. Most of the park is not shaded, and you'll be in direct sunlight. Bring plenty of water and keep yourself well hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion and sunstroke.
5. Only take photos during the middle of the day.
Yes, this photo is nice, and the blue sky above the majestic rock formations is wonderful...
...but look what happens at sunset!
During sunrise and sunset, the rock formations are bathed in beautiful light that really brings out their beauty.
6. Really think you'll drive Loop Road in just an hour.
The scenery and wildlife along this road is so incredible that you definitely need to take some time here. Pull over and watch the hustle and bustle of a prairie dog town, or pause to take in a beautiful view.
7. Fail to pay attention to weather warnings.
Storms can come along a lot faster than you might expect, and lightning can strike well ahead. Find shelter during a thunderstorm, and avoid low places where flash flooding can occur. Dress in layers while hiking.
8. Hurry too fast through the park.
Now that you've got your sunscreen and a bottle of water, sit on a bench and just...be. Seriously, this majestic place can be a wonderful place to just sit and relax.
9. Wear flip-flops or sandals.
Flip-flops are perfect for the pool or beach, but they're the worst kind of footwear for Badlands National Park. You'll suffer pricks from cactus spines, insect bites and sunburns. If you plan on doing any hiking at all, you'll definitely need hiking boots or closed-toe shoes with decent tread - the terrain can be slick and slippery.
What other mistakes have you made while visiting Badlands National Park? Give our readers more advice in the comments!