Badlands National Park is located in South Dakota about an hour from Rapid City. Don’t let the name fool you. The Badlands is not as desolate and dull as the name might imply. It is a beautiful landscape teeming with wildlife.
Badlands National Park boasts several unique hiking trails such as the Notch Trail and the Door Trail. Both are great if you’d like a little adventure. But don’t discount the Fossil Exhibit Trail. This easy Badlands hike highlights one of the unique aspects of this national park.
The Badlands Fossil Exhibit Trail is located about 5 miles from the Badlands Ben Reifel Visitor Center. This short loop trail is only 1/4 of a mile, and is a handicap accessible boardwalk.
Fossil Exhibit Trail Awesomeness
At first glance, this trail might seem like nothing special. But, look again. Around the trail are displays featuring fossil replicas of animals that once inhabited this rich landscape.
Again, you may still be wondering “what is so special about that?” The Fossil Exhibit Trail showcases the fact that the Badlands is home to significant deposits of prehistoric mammal fossils. In fact, fossils are still being discovered today! Guests are not only allowed but actually encouraged to get into the fossil hunting action. How? The Badlands has an open hike policy, so visitors can go off trail and search. How awesome is that!
So many fossils have been discovered in Badlands National Park that there is a working Fossil Preparation Lab in the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. This lab allows guests to observe paleontologists at work.
Most national parks require hikers to stay on the trail. So, the Badlands open hike policy is an unique opportunity to explore! Who knows, you may be the lucky visitor who makes the next big discovery.