About the Site
Badlands National Park  


Park History

Pinnacles Overlook

Overlooks (North)

Overlooks (Central)

Overlooks (South)

Big Badlands Overlook

Door & Window


Cedar Pass Lodge

Cedar Pass Area

Badlands Loop Road

Norbeck Pass

Fossil Exhibit Trail

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

Other Trails



Big Badlands Overlook

If the park is entered through the Northeast Entrance the first overlook encountered is the Big Badlands Overlook. This overlook is located less than a mile south of the entrance.

The Big Badlands Overlook provides a view of the eastern section of the park. The view looks east toward the town of Kadoka, and toward the southeast when the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is located.

This overlook provides a good view of the drainage of the White River. Badlands National park is located between the Cheyenne River to the north of the park and the White River to the south.

For potential visitors, ParkVision recommends "Story Behind the Scenery" guides and "Trails Ilustrated" maps.

Both the White and Cheyenne Rivers are tributaries of the Missouri. The clay which is eroded from the formations in the Badlands by wind and rain ends up in large part in the White River.

The view encompasses the spires, canyons, and ridges characteristic of the badlands country. In addition to the spires, columns, walls, and other formations, erosion in this area has also created ravines, canyons, and channels. The landscape apparent from the Big Badlands Overlook is quite typical of the topography in the park.

The spectacular formations of the Badlands country have been carved by the erosive effects of wind, water and frost. The beginnings of the erosion which created the current topology of the Badlands began about 500,000 years ago. This landscape has been described as "chaotic and spectacular" (Shuler, 1989).

Views of the formations along the wall reveal colors like pastel blues, pinks, and greens. The formations also present a banded appearance. The striated appearance of many of the formations in the Badlands is a result of the geological history of the area. The black shale one formed the bottom of an ancient sea. It is topped by layers from the Eocene Epoch, which itself underlies material from the Oligocene Epoch.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

  • Commercial use of the images contained in this document without express written consent is strictly prohibited.

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