Warning! Do NOT think that just because you stick to the path that you are safe from rattlesnakes. We came across one right on the edge of the path. I walked within 2 feet of it and it never rattled or struck, and continued walking for about another 50 feet until we heard people yelling about a rattlesnake so we went back and discovered it right on the edge of the path. Be careful!! Even when I knew it was there and heard it rattling, it was hard to see!
As always, you should obey all warning signs. They are there to for your safety and to protect the park, its wildlife, and its plants. This is especially important in a place like the badlands where a mistake can be disastrous.
Summer in the badlands is hot and dry with temperatures often exceeding 100° Fahrenheit. Know the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sunstroke and prevent their occurrence by drinking 1 gallon of water per day, wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and covering up with long sleeves, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat.
• Keep a distance of at least 100 yards from all wildlife encountered during your hike. If wildlife reacts to your presence at all, you are too close.
There are snakes, buffalo and even the deer can be dangerous.
No longer used to living in a part of the world that has various poisonous creatures lurking about as a regular part of the landscape, this Warning sign at our first Overlook in Badlands NP made us sit up and take notice that we should stick to the wide crushed rock trails throughout the park. Probably not a good idea to wander off into some of the taller grass sections while seeking out that extra-special view! Another thing you should be careful of is getting too close to the wild Bison in the park - they may look docile but they have sharp horns, short tempers and can easily outrun a human if they decide enough is enough.
The Badlands are a wild and rugged looking place and the weather can be too with sudden wind, hail, rain, lightning or tornados occasionally sweeping across the plains. If you are planning to backpack, be prepared for more than just the sunny weather you may have started out in. It goes without saying, that you should also carry sufficient supplies of water in this desert-like region where the temperatures can become very hot and the climbing strenuous.
Seldom seen, but still present, rattle snakes can be exciting to see, but dangerous to deal with. Give them plenty of room and don't try to get close. They can strike at a distance you'd not expect. Stay on trails and you should have a worry free visit.
Description: a coiled Prairie rattlesnake
Artist: Hynes, Robert 'Bob'
There are plenty of dangers at the Badlands - Rattlesnakes included. It seems that if you stick to the guided path, you'll be safer. I guess they've instructed the snakes to stay away from the trails.
While in the Badlands, it can be very tempting to want to climb or descend into certain areas to view different things and get new perspectives. However, I'd caution you to avoid actually doing this as much as possible, especially if you are traveling alone! The Badlands go on for miles, so it's unlikely that anyone will be around to help you if you get into a pinch and need rescued/first-aid. There are plenty of chances to see everything the Badlands has to offer, so there really is no need go off the beaten path!
Be prepared. We were only planning on driving through.. ended up doing some hiking (couldn't resist)... have emergency materials and water just in case you wander further than planned.
ALSO... don't lock your keys in your car during the parks off season. We hadn't seen one car until the angel sent one appeared after we'd be contemplating what we were going to do to get the keys out of our locked car... in the middle of nowhere. I'm not going to say who locked them in, just that it wasn't me. funny memory.
p.s.stethoscopes do more than you realize...
If you choose to go hiking during the warmer months, you will need to bring lots of water. There is no potable water on the trails so you have to carry it in. The park service recommends 2 liters of water per 2 hours per person.