|Summer sunflowers on the Prairie Winds Trail|
Badlands National Park has some harsh landscapes, but for families interested in kid-friendly walks consider these two easy trails we took when we visited: the 150-foot Prairie Winds Trail and the quarter-mile paved Fossil Exhibit Trail.
We chose these two trails during our driving tour of Badlands National Park because I wanted to get the kids out of the car and looking at scenery. However, after our rattlesnake encounter, I knew I wasn’t going to get them on a more challenging hike that wasn’t “safe”.
Walking the Prairie Winds Trail is like taking a peaceful trip back in time to an era when covered wagons traveled west to settle America. Taking in these wide vistas of rolling plains with hardly a tree in sight is an awe-inspiring moment. We took the time to admire the beautiful scenery and to smell the flowers.
|Endless prairie on the Prairie Winds Trail|
Just a few miles away on the Badlands Loop Road was the short Fossil Exhibit Trail.
|What used to live in this now desolate area|
It’s hard to believe that this dry, dusty landscape with no drinkable water used to be lush meadows supporting a wide variety of dinosaurs and reptiles. Like the Prairie Winds Trail, the walk is short and easily accessible.
|Along the Fossil Exhibit Trail|
Fossils preserved in glass cases provide a sampling of some of the fossils (like this one of an Archaeotherium – a boar-like animal) excavated in the area.
|Fossils of Archaeotherium|
Surprisingly, there are a number of other family-friendly hikes in Badlands National Park like the Door Trail, Window Trail, and Cliff Shelf Trail (all under one mile). With enough cajoling, I probably could have convinced my guys to try the longer (1.5 mile) Notch Trail, but like them, I also wasn’t in the mood for more “unexpected” animals!