How Did Badlands National Park In South Dakota Get Its Name and What Does Badlands Mean?

The word “badlands,” to geologists, means a region that has been badly eroded by water and wind.

The result is an area of deep gullies and small, steep hills. The soil is poor or nonexistent, and few plants grow there.

Badlands National Park in southwestern South Dakota is such a place. It features acres of sharp buttes, pinnacles, and spires of eroded rock.

The primary vegetation is grasses, in fact, Badlands is the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States.

Because floods and winds have swept away so much of the soil and rock in badlands areas, dinosaur and other kinds of fossils often show up. Badlands National Park is no exception, it is home to the richest Oligocene epoch fossilbed in the world.

Fossil remains of ancient horses, sheep, rhinoceroses, and pigs have been found there.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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