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Badlands National Park

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Badlands National Park

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Badlands National Park

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Welcome to Badlands Park, SD

So stark and forbidding are the chiseled spires, ragged ridgelines, and deep ravines of South Dakota's badlands that Lieutenant Colonel George Custer once described them as "hell with the fires burned out." Although a bit more accessible than the depths of the underworld, the landscape is easily the strangest in the Great Plains. Ruthlessly ravaged over the ages by wind and rain, the 380 square mi of wild terrain continue to erode and evolve, sometimes visibly changing shape in a few days. Prairie creatures thrive on the untamed territory, and animal fossils are in abundance. - Copyright © 2014 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. Explore

Things You Can't Miss

1/5
The Rugged South

For unpaved adventure and spectacular views, head for the South Unit. Your GPS may well fail, so bring a good map for the bumpy dirt roads.

The Rugged South

Image Credit: Radius Images / Alamy

Sleep Under the Stars

For a real outdoor experience, spend a night at Sage Creek Campground. Naturalists offer tours of the night skies, and some bison may show up.

Sleep Under the Stars

Image Credit: Carol Polich Photo Workshops/Getty images

Follow the Signs

You’ll see signs all over advertising Wall Drug Store in Wall, Kansas. It may be a tourist trap, but it also offers 76,000 square feet of family fun.

Follow the Signs

Image Credit: Connie Ricca/CORBIS

Relive the Cold War

At the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, visit the launch control center and walk through a missile field that was on alert for 30 years.

Relive the Cold War

Image Credit: Blend Images / Alamy

Windows 3.0

Windows Overlook is the starting point for three short hikes offering beautiful views of the Badlands Wall. Two are paved; a third is more demanding.

Windows 3.0

Image Credit: Badlands National Park

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Must Reads Before You Go

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5 Things Not to Do in National Parks

by Rob Tallia

National parks and state parks are beautiful places to visit and go hiking. Maximize your fun by avoiding these common mistakes - like running out of gas or getting dehydrated.

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