Badlands National Park vs Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Feel Free To Share:

Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve are two of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the United States. Each park offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors, from the rugged and otherworldly landscapes of Badlands to the icy glaciers and pristine fjords of Glacier Bay. Both parks are home to an incredible array of wildlife and plant life, and offer a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re an experienced hiker, a nature photographer, or just looking to enjoy some time in the great outdoors, these parks have something for everyone. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes Badlands and Glacier Bay so special and help you decide which one is the perfect destination for your next adventure. So, fasten your seatbelt and get ready for an unforgettable journey through two of America’s most spectacular national parks.

Hiking Trails in Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve both offer visitors a wide range of hiking trails to explore. However, the types of hiking trails and the difficulty level of each park’s trails are quite different.

Badlands National Park features a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy, paved trails to more challenging, backcountry trails. One of the easiest hikes in the park is the Door Trail, which is a paved, 0.25-mile trail that takes visitors through a unique rock formation. Another easy hike is the Fossil Exhibit Trail, which is a 0.5-mile trail that takes visitors through a fossil exhibit and offers a great view of the Badlands formations. For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Castle Trail is a 7-mile hike that takes visitors through the heart of the Badlands and offers a great view of the park’s rugged terrain.

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, offers visitors a range of hiking trails that are more challenging. The park is home to a number of glaciers and rugged mountains, which makes for some spectacular hiking opportunities. One of the easiest hikes in the park is the Bartlett Cove Trail, which is a 2.5-mile trail that takes visitors through the lush rainforest and offers a great view of the park’s glaciers. For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Reid Glacier Trail is a 6-mile hike that takes visitors to the base of the Reid Glacier, where visitors can see the glacier’s crevasses and icefalls up close.

In summary, both Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve offer visitors a wide range of hiking trails to explore. However, the types of hiking trails and the difficulty level of each park’s trails are quite different. Badlands National Park features a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy, paved trails to more challenging, backcountry trails, while Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve offers more challenging hikes due to the presence of glaciers and rugged mountains.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Badlands National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Notch Trail 1.30 mi 131.20 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Castle Trail 10.48 mi 314.88 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
The Door Trail 0.80 mi 36.08 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Saddle Pass Trail 0.70 mi 216.48 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Medicine Root Loop Trail 4.49 mi 337.84 ft loop Easy 4/5
The Window Trail 0.20 mi 6.56 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Cliff Shelf Nature Trail 0.50 mi 65.60 ft loop Easy 4/5
Fossil Exhibit Trail 0.40 mi 13.12 ft out and back Easy 3.5/5
Sage Creek Loop 22.75 mi 806.88 ft loop Hard 4/5
Sheep Mountain Table Road 14.57 mi 593.68 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Bartlett Cove Forest Loop Trail 1.10 mi 111.52 ft loop Easy 4.5/5
Bartlett River Trail 6.89 mi 875.76 ft out and back Easy 3/5
Bartlet Lake Trail 5.89 mi 465.76 ft out and back Easy 3.5/5
Tlingit Trail 1.10 mi 65.60 ft out and back Easy 3.5/5
Point Gustavus 12.47 mi 387.04 ft out and back Moderate 4/5

Wildlife in Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve are both home to a wide variety of wildlife, but the types of animals and birds you’re likely to see at each park are quite different.

At Badlands National Park, the most commonly seen animals are bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn. Other mammals that can be spotted include coyotes, badgers, and prairie dogs. Birds that are commonly seen include the American goldfinch, the meadowlark, and the red-tailed hawk. In the park, you can also find reptiles such as the Prairie Rattlesnake and the Great Basin Gophersnake and amphibians like the Boreal Chorus Frog.

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is home to an abundance of marine life. Visitors can see whales, seals, sea lions, and porpoises in the waters around the park. On land, visitors can see bears, mountain goats, and wolves. Many species of birds can also be found in the park, including the bald eagle, the puffin, and the common loon. The park also has many species of fish, including salmon, halibut, and cod.

In terms of plants, Badlands National Park is home to a wide variety of prairie grasses, wildflowers, and cacti. The park is also home to several species of pine, juniper, and oak trees. In contrast, Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is home to a wide variety of marine plants, including seaweed and kelp. The park is also home to a variety of mosses, lichens, and other low-lying plants that thrive in the cool, damp climate.

In summary, Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve are both home to a wide variety of wildlife, but the types of animals and birds you’re likely to see at each park are quite different. Badlands National Park is known for its mammal and bird life, while Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is known for its marine life and wildlife on land such as bears and mountain goats. Both parks also have a diverse plant life that is unique to their respective environment.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Badlands National Park Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Savannah Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
American Kestrel American Kestrel
Bald Eagle Bald Eagle
Song Sparrow Song Sparrow
European Starling European Starling
Northern Pintail Northern Pintail
American Wigeon American Wigeon
Green-Winged Teal Green-Winged Teal

Mammals

Badlands National Park Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Little Brown Bat
Big Brown Bat Deer Mouse
Bobcat Black Bear
Striped Skunk Porcupine
Little Brown Bat Red Fox
Deer Mouse House Mouse
Raccoon Mountain Lion
Porcupine Mink
Silver-Haired Bat Mule Deer
Hoary Bat Gray Wolf
Red Fox Short-Tailed Weasel
Long-Tailed Weasel Snowshoe Hare
House River Otter
Mountain Lion Masked Shrew
Mule Deer Water Shrew
Gray Fox Red Squirrel
Long-Legged Myotis Montane Shrew
Northern Myotis Long-Tailed Vole
Badger Lynx
Weasel Wolverine
North American River Otter Marten
Common Shrew Northern Flying Squirrel
Pacific Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat Grizzly Bear

Amphibians

Badlands National Park Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Northern Leopard Frog Wood Frog
Tiger Salamander
Bullfrog
Woodhouse’s Toad
Plains Spadefoot

Fish

Badlands National Park Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Fathead Minnow Rainbow Trout
Golden Shiner Brook Trout
European Carp Longnose Sucker
Longnose Dace Lake Trout
Yellow Bullhead Northern Pike
Channel Catfish Burbot
Black Bullhead Silver Salmon
Creek Chub Chinook Salmon
Slimy Sculpin
Threespine Stickleback
Sockeye Salmon
Pink Salmon
Chum Salmon
Dolly Varden
Cutthroat Trout
Arctic Grayling

Beautiful Landscapes in Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Badlands National Park is known for its rugged and otherworldly landscapes, featuring layered rock formations, deep canyons, and unique fossils. The park’s most famous landscape is the Badlands Loop Road, a scenic drive that takes visitors through some of the park’s most striking and colorful landscapes. Along the way, visitors can stop at several overlooks to take in the panoramic views of the park’s unique rock formations, including the Pinnacles Overlook and the Badlands Overlook. Another popular spot to visit is the Badlands Wilderness Area, where visitors can hike through the park’s backcountry and explore the unique geologic formations and fossils found there.

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is known for its icy glaciers, pristine fjords and rugged mountains. The park’s most famous landscapes include the spectacular Glacier Bay, a vast and awe-inspiring body of water that is home to several glaciers, including the iconic Margerie Glacier and the Johns Hopkins Glacier. Another popular spot to visit is the Marjorie Glacier, which is one of the park’s most active and easily accessible glaciers. Visitors can take a boat tour to get a closer look at the glacier and watch as chunks of ice break off and crash into the water below. The park also offers several hiking trails that take visitors to the top of the mountains, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the park’s rugged landscapes.

In summary, Badlands National Park is known for its rugged and otherworldly landscapes, featuring layered rock formations, deep canyons, and unique fossils, while Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is known for its icy glaciers, pristine fjords and rugged mountains. Both parks offer unique and beautiful landscapes that are definitely worth visiting.

Things To-Do and Activities in Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve both offer a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy, but the most popular activities at each park are quite different.

At Badlands National Park, the most popular activities include hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. The park has a number of hiking trails that vary in difficulty, from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks. Camping is also a popular activity, with several campgrounds available for visitors to use. Wildlife viewing is also a popular activity, with visitors often spotting bison, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn.

At Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, the most popular activities include boating, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Visitors can take a guided boat tour to see glaciers, or they can rent a kayak or other watercraft to explore the park on their own. Wildlife viewing is also a popular activity, with visitors often spotting whales, seals, sea lions, and porpoises. On land, visitors can also see bears, mountain goats, and wolves.

In summary, Badlands National Park is known for its hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing, while Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is known for its boating, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Both parks offer a wide range of activities that cater to different interests, making them a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Best Time to Visit Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve are both located in different regions of the United States, which means that their weather patterns can be quite different. The seasonal weather at each park affects when is the best time of year to visit.

Badlands National Park is located in South Dakota, and the weather can be quite extreme, with hot summers and cold winters. The best time to visit the park is in the spring or fall, when the temperatures are mild and the crowds are smaller. During the summer months, temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it too hot for some visitors to comfortably explore the park. In the winter, the park can be covered in snow, making it difficult to access some of the trails and roads.

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is located in Alaska, and the weather can also be quite extreme, with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The best time to visit the park is in the summer months, between June and August, when the weather is milder and the days are longer. Visitors can explore the park by boat or by foot and enjoy the stunning views of the glaciers and the wildlife. During the winter months, the park is covered in snow, making it difficult to access some of the trails and roads, and the park is closed to visitors.

In summary, the seasonal weather at Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve affects when is the best time of year to visit each park. The best time to visit Badlands National Park is in the spring or fall, when the temperatures are mild and the crowds are smaller, while the best time to visit Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is in the summer months, between June and August, when the weather is milder and the days are longer. Visitors should take into account the weather conditions when planning their visit to these parks.

Family Friendliness of Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Both Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve are great options for families looking to experience the natural beauty of America’s national parks. However, each park offers a different type of experience and has different things to offer families.

Badlands National Park is a great option for families with children who are interested in geology and natural history. The park offers a wide range of educational programs and ranger-led activities that are designed to help children learn about the park’s unique geologic formations, fossils, and wildlife. The park also has several easy hiking trails that are suitable for families with young children, such as the Window Trail and the Door Trail. In addition, the Badlands Loop Road is a great way to see the park’s most famous landscapes, with several overlooks that provide stunning views of the park’s unique rock formations.

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, on the other hand, is a great option for families who are interested in glaciers, marine life and wildlife. The park offers several boat tours that take visitors to see the park’s glaciers and marine wildlife, such as humpback whales, porpoises, sea lions, and seals. The park also offers several ranger-led activities and educational programs that are designed to help children learn about the park’s glaciers, marine life, and wildlife. However, the park’s hiking trails are not suitable for young children, and the park is not as easily accessible as Badlands National Park.

In summary, while both Badlands National Park and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve offer a great family-friendly experience, Badlands National Park is a better option for families with young children who are interested in geology and natural history, while Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is better for families who are interested in glaciers, marine life and wildlife.

Leave a Comment