I love my weekly commutes to Badlands National Park. Badlands National Park is an incredible destination for families with kids of all ages. The park, located in western South Dakota, boasts a unique landscape of towering spires, deep canyons, and colorful rock formations that will leave your little ones in awe. Here are some tips for exploring the Badlands with kids:
- Start at the Visitor Center
The first stop on your trip should be the park’s visitor center. Here, you can get maps and information about the park’s history and geology. The ranger station also offers a junior ranger program that your kids can participate in. The program will keep them engaged throughout their visit and teach them about the importance of protecting our national parks.
- Take a Scenic Drive
The Badlands Loop Road is a 31-mile drive that offers stunning views of the park’s landscape. There are several overlooks along the way where you can stop and take in the scenery. The drive takes about an hour to complete, but you can easily spend half a day exploring the area.
- Go Hiking
Badlands National Park has several hiking trails that are perfect for families with kids. The trails vary in difficulty and length, so you can choose one that suits your family’s needs. The Fossil Exhibit Trail is a popular choice for families because it’s a short, easy hike that takes you to an exhibit showcasing some of the park’s ancient fossils.
- Join a Ranger Program
The park offers several ranger-led programs that are designed specifically for kids. These programs include guided hikes, campfire programs, and educational activities that teach kids about the park’s wildlife and geology. Check with the visitor center to see what programs are available during your visit.
- Go Wildlife Watching
Badlands National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and coyotes. Take your kids on a wildlife-watching adventure and see how many different animals you can spot. Be sure to keep a safe distance from the animals and never approach them.
- Stay Overnight
The park has two campgrounds where you can stay overnight. Camping is a great way to experience the park’s beauty at all hours of the day. You can also stay in one of the park’s lodges or nearby hotels if camping isn’t your thing.
7. Book your vacation photographer
I love showing young families my favorite places in the park. We usually walk about a half mile, stopping along the way for the incredible views, to let your littles play, and snap some incredible photos while we’re at it. I know Wall Drug is full of name keychains and nicknacks, but this will definitely be your best souvenir.
Badlands National Park is a wonderful destination for families with young kids. With its unique landscape, hiking trails, and ranger programs, there’s something for everyone. So pack up the car, grab your kids, and meet me in Badlands National Park for an unforgettable family adventure.