9. Badlands National Park: Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour
Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map all in one.
Once downloaded, your tour of Badlands National Park begins either in the town of Wall. (If it’s more convenient, you can also begin the tour from the town of Philip.) From there, you’ll head south into the park itself.
Once you enter the park, you’ll have the option to take a quick detour to see a prairie dog colony at Roberts Prairie Dog Town. It’s a pretty uncommon sight, and I’d highly recommend it for any animal lovers!
After that, you’ll reach Pinnacles Overlook, a fantastic place to spot bison or bighorn sheep. Don’t forget to bring binoculars just in case!
Then there’s Ancient Hunters Overlook, where the ancestors of the Lakota once butchered bison they had killed in their hunts. As you drive, you’ll hear lots more about these hunters and their prey. Then you’ll arrive at Yellow Mounds Overlook, which really outdoes its unappealing name by revealing millions of years of geologic history!
Homestead Overlook is up next. Here, you’ll learn all about how the Homestead Acts transformed the Badlands, and what they meant for the Lakota who were already living in the region. At Burns Basin, up next, you’ll get a chance to see the site of one of those 20th century homesteads once occupied by a sheep rancher.
You’ll find something different at Prairie Winds Overlook, offering views not of rocky crags but instead of lush, flowing prairie. Believe it or not, these prairies are in danger of disappearing in the near future, making this spot even more special.
Then there’s Panorama Point. The name of this one is pretty self-explanatory, so make sure to set your phone’s camera to Panorama Mode!
At Bigfoot Pass, next, you’ll hear the tragic tale of the Wounded Knee Massacre, which took place not far from the Badlands. Then you’ll learn how to spot a golden eagle, one of the Badlands’ most majestic residents.
The Fossil Exhibit Trail is up next, and it’s a must-see for anyone traveling with younger explorers. Here, you’ll uncover the history behind the many, many fossils and prehistoric creatures of the Badlands with an easy walk full of informational signs.
After that, you’ll come across Saddle Pass Trail, a short hike that’s great for birdwatchers. If you need a break, the Ben Reifel Visitor Center is just beyond that trail. It even features a fossil lab for amateur paleontologists hungry for more knowledge!
You’ll come to the Cliff Shelf Trail next. This unique trail takes hikers through a lush juniper forest to break up the harsh, rocky landscape. Then there are the trio of trails known as The Notch, The Castle, and The Door. Offering a variety of different lengths and difficulties, there’s something for everyone here!
Finally, you’ll arrive at Big Badlands Overlook. This one really earns its name, and offers one of the best views in the entire park. Your tour concludes here.