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Badlands

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.

If you want to experience the majesty of the Badlands but need to keep the motor running (or you forgot your hiking boots), drive I-90 going east and take exit 110.

This is the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway. South Dakota Highway 240 winds its way through the eastern portion of Badlands National Park, snaking and crawling between ancient rock formations, cliffs, and colorful spires. The road runs about 40 miles — it’s a two-laner — and it’ll take about two hours if you stop at the overlooks (you’ll want to stop at the overlooks). If nothing else, be sure to catch the Big Badlands Overlook, Pinnacles Overlook, and Yellow Mounds Overlook. There are 12 others and eight trailheads to pick from, in case you did end up bringing those hiking boots.

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