The Badlands dont call out to motorists. They dont loom on the horizon for miles.
They appear suddenly and stunningly, surprising the traveler who isnt prepared for such sweeping, stark beauty that comes seemingly out of nowhere.
Trappers dubbed the region les mauvaises terres a traverser, which translated means bad lands to cross. Its easy to see why. In the summer, the Badlands region is hot and dusty with little shade and even less drinkable water. Although the automobile and smooth, paved roads have lessened the Badlands impact on traveling, the region can still seem inhospitable. Nonetheless, there are few places so beautiful.
Badlands National Park, a 244,000-acre expanse, annually hosts about 1 million visitors, most of whom enjoy the scenic drive through the park on the Badlands Loop. This loop technically, its Highway 240, stretching from I-90 near Kadoka to another point on I-90 at Wall offers an easy, hour-long tour of the Badlands, if no stops are figured in. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center, on the loop, offers a gift shop and interactive and museum-like educational displays.
Its best, however, to get out of the car and enjoy a few of the scenic overlooks on the loop that allow visitors to gaze over the strange landscape that makes up the Badlands. The park also has numerous hiking trails, some of which can be completed in just a matter of minutes.