Badlands National Park Feature
Flora and Fauna
The park's sharply defined cliffs, canyons, and mesas are near-deserts with little plant growth. Most of the park, however, is made up of mixed-grass prairies, where more than 460 species of hardy grasses and wildflowers flourish in the warmer months. Prairie coneflower, yellow plains prickly pear, pale-green yucca, buffalo grass, and sideoats grama are just a few of the plants on the badlands plateau. Trees and shrubs are rare and usually confined to dry creek beds. The most common trees are Rocky Mountain junipers and Plains cottonwoods.
It's common to see pronghorn antelope and mule deer dart across the flat plateaus; bison grazing on the buttes; prairie dogs and sharp-tailed grouse; and, soaring above, golden eagles, turkey vultures, and hawks. Also present are coyotes, swift foxes, jackrabbits, bats, gophers, porcupines, skunks, bobcats, horned lizards, bighorn sheep, and prairie rattlers. The latter are the only venomous reptiles in the park—watch for them near rocky outcroppings. Backcountry hikers might consider heavy boots and long pants reinforced with leather or canvas. Although rarely seen, weasels, mountain lions, and the endangered black-footed ferret roam the park.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- Save in Rapid City: Book 3 Nts in May Fr $155+/Nt Save with Expedia, $27/night less
- Rapid City Savings! Book 3 Nts in May Fr $119+/Nt Expedia
- $24.95 & up : Full Size rentals in Rapid City Hotwire
- Save Big This May! Book 3 Nts in Rapid City Fr $125+/Nt — $125 Expedia
- $21.95 & up : Compact rentals in Rapid City — $22 Hotwire