Badlands National Park vs Great Basin National Park

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Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park are two incredibly diverse national parks that offer visitors a chance to experience the best of nature. Badlands National Park, located in South Dakota, is known for its rugged and otherworldly landscapes, with colorful rock formations that look like something out of a science fiction movie. Great Basin National Park, on the other hand, is located in Nevada and offers a more serene and peaceful experience, with towering peaks and ancient Bristlecone Pine trees. Both parks are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of hiking and camping opportunities, but they offer vastly different experiences. If you’re looking for an otherworldly adventure, Badlands National Park is the perfect destination, but if you’re looking for a more secluded and peaceful getaway, Great Basin National Park is the perfect choice. No matter which park you choose, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience exploring the natural wonders of these two national parks.

Hiking Trails in Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park

Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park offer vastly different hiking experiences. Badlands National Park is known for its rugged, otherworldly landscapes and offers a variety of shorter, easier hikes that allow visitors to explore these unique landscapes. Some popular trails include the Door Trail, which takes hikers through a narrow passageway in the Badlands formations, and the Pinnacles Overlook Trail, which offers views of the park’s famous spire-like formations.

On the other hand, Great Basin National Park offers a more mountainous hiking experience, with longer, more strenuous trails that lead to alpine lakes and summits. The park’s most popular hike is the Bristlecone Pine Trail, which takes hikers to an ancient grove of bristlecone pine trees, some of which are over 4,000 years old. Another challenging hike is the Wheeler Peak Trail, which takes hikers to the summit of the park’s highest peak, offering panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness.

Overall, Badlands National Park is more suitable for visitors looking for short, easy hikes and unique landscapes, while Great Basin National Park is more suitable for visitors looking for longer, more strenuous hikes and alpine scenery.

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 Great Basin National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Wheeler Peak Trail via Stella Lake Trail 8.18 mi 2,906.08 ft out and back Hard 5/5
Bristlecone Pine Glacier Trail 4.49 mi 1,059.44 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Alpine Lakes Trail 2.69 mi 469.04 ft loop Easy 4.5/5
Lehman Cave 0.40 mi 45.92 ft loop Easy 4.5/5
Bristlecone and Alpine Lakes Loop 5.29 mi 1,013.52 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive 23.25 mi 3,857.28 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Baker Lake Trail 10.38 mi 2,669.92 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5
Teresa Lake 1.50 mi 305.04 ft out and back Moderate 5/5
Baker Lake-Johnson Lake Loop 12.87 mi 4,365.68 ft loop Hard 4.5/5
Lexington Arch Trail 2.89 mi 1,118.48 ft out and back Moderate 4/5

Wildlife in Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park

Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park are both home to a diverse array of wildlife. However, the types of animals, birds, and plants that are commonly seen in each park are quite different.

At Badlands National Park, visitors can expect to see a variety of mammals such as bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and coyotes. The park is also home to a variety of bird species, including hawks, eagles, and vultures. In addition to mammals and birds, the park is also home to a variety of reptiles, including lizards and snakes. The park also has a diverse array of plants, including prairie grasses, wildflowers, and cacti.

On the other hand, Great Basin National Park is home to a variety of animals such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. The park is also home to a variety of bird species, including golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and sage grouse. The park is also home to a variety of reptiles, including lizards and snakes. The park also has a diverse array of plants, including sagebrush, juniper, and pinion pine.

In conclusion, while both Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park are home to a diverse array of wildlife, the types of animals, birds, and plants that are commonly seen in each park are quite different. Badlands National Park is known for its prairie grasses, wildflowers, and cacti, while Great Basin National Park is known for its sagebrush, juniper, and pinion pine.

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

Birds

Badlands National Park Great Basin National Park
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 Great Basin National Park
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Big Brown Bat
Bobcat Bobcat
Striped Skunk Striped Skunk
Little Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Deer Mouse Deer Mouse
Raccoon Raccoon
Porcupine Porcupine
Silver-Haired Bat Silver-Haired Bat
Hoary Bat Hoary Bat
Red Fox Red Fox
Long-Tailed Weasel Long-Tailed Weasel
House House Mouse
Mountain Lion Lion
Mule Deer Mink
Gray Fox Mule Deer
Long-Legged Myotis Gray Fox
Northern Myotis Gray Wolf
Badger Long-Legged Myotis
Weasel Long-Eared Myotis
North American River Otter Badger
Common Shrew Ermine
Pacific Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat Californis Myotis

Reptiles

Badlands National Park Great Basin National Park
Gopher Snake Racer
Racer Greater Short-Horned Lizard
Western Rattlesnake Rubber Boa
Common Garter Snake Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard
Hernandez’s Short-Horned Lizard Eastern Collared Lizard
Milksnake Eastern Fence Lizard
Eastern Fence Lizard Long-Nosed Snake
Desert Spiny Lizard
Western Fence Lizard

Amphibians

Badlands National Park Great Basin National Park
Northern Leopard Frog Tiger Salamander
Tiger Salamander Woodhouse’s Toad
Bullfrog Red-Spotted Toad
Woodhouse’s Toad Canyon Treefrog
Plains Spadefoot

Insects

Badlands National Park Great Basin National Park
Orange Sulphur Orange Sulphur
Painted Lady Painted Lady
Monarch Monarch Butterfly
American Painted Lady American Painted Lady
Red Admiral Red Admiral
Morning Cloak Mourningcloak
Cabbage White Cabbage White
Silvery Blue Silvery Blue
Common Check-Skipper Common Checkered-Skipper
Clouded Sulphur Clouded Sulphur
Honey Bee Commom Wood Nymph
Variegated Fritillary Purplish Copper
Commom Wood Nymph Anise Swallowtail
Purplish Copper Gray Hairstreak
Anise Swallowtail
Gray Hairstreak

Fish

Badlands National Park Great Basin National Park
Fathead Minnow Rainbow Trout
Golden Shiner Brook Trout
European Carp Brown Trout
Longnose Dace Mottled Sculpin
Yellow Bullhead Speckled Dace
Channel Catfish Cutthroat Trout
Black Bullhead
Creek Chub

Beautiful Landscapes in Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park

Badlands National Park is known for its striking and unique geological formations, including layered rock formations, rugged canyons, and towering spires. The park’s most famous landscape is the Badlands Loop Road, a scenic drive that takes visitors through some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in the park. Along the way, visitors can stop at overlooks to take in the views and hike on the many trails that traverse the park’s rugged terrain.

On the other hand, Great Basin National Park is home to the ancient and beautiful Lehman Caves, a limestone cave system that features intricate and colorful formations. The park is also home to the 13,063-foot-high Wheeler Peak, the second-highest peak in Nevada, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. Additionally, visitors can enjoy hiking on the many trails that lead to alpine lakes, glaciers, and wildflower meadows, including the strenuous Bristlecone Pine Trail that leads to the ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.

In summary, while Badlands National Park offers striking and unique geological formations, Great Basin National Park offers ancient and beautiful limestone caves, the second-highest peak in Nevada and hiking trails that lead to alpine lakes, glaciers, and wildflower meadows. Both parks offer different and unique experiences that are sure to leave visitors in awe.

Things To-Do and Activities in Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park

Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park are both popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Both parks offer a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy, but they have their own unique features that set them apart.

At Badlands National Park, visitors can explore the park’s rugged terrain on foot or by car, taking in the striking landscapes of layered rock formations and deep canyons. Hiking is a popular activity here, with several trails that range in difficulty, from easy nature walks to more challenging backcountry treks. Visitors can also take a scenic drive along the Badlands Loop Road, which offers breathtaking views of the park’s rugged terrain.

At Great Basin National Park, visitors can explore the park’s vast wilderness areas, including the 13,063-foot peak of Wheeler Peak. Hiking is also a popular activity here, with trails that range from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks. Visitors can also take a scenic drive along the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, which offers breathtaking views of the park’s rugged terrain. Other popular activities include camping, stargazing, and wildlife viewing.

In conclusion, both parks have a lot to offer, but they have their own unique features. Badlands National Park is great for those who want to explore rugged terrain and enjoy hiking, while Great Basin National Park is great for those who want to explore vast wilderness areas and enjoy hiking, stargazing, and wildlife viewing.

Best Time to Visit Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park

Badlands National Park, located in South Dakota, has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold winters. The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is in the spring and fall when the temperatures are milder. During the summer months, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it too hot for some activities. In the winter, the park can be snowy and icy, making some roads and trails impassable.

Great Basin National Park, located in Nevada, has a high desert climate with hot summers and cold winters. The park is also open year-round, but the best time to visit is in the spring and fall when the temperatures are milder. During the summer, temperatures can reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and in the winter temperatures can drop below freezing. The park is also home to the only glacier in Nevada, the Lehman Caves, which can only be visited during the warmer months.

Both parks have the best hiking conditions in the spring and fall when the temperatures are cooler and the wildflowers are in bloom. If you’re looking to explore the Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park is the best option. If you’re looking to see bison, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife, Badlands National Park is the best option.

Family Friendliness of Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park

Badlands National Park and Great Basin National Park are both family-friendly destinations for those looking to explore the great outdoors with their children. Both parks offer a variety of activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, such as hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

Badlands National Park is known for its striking geological formations, including layered rock formations, deep canyons, and fossil beds. The park offers a variety of easy hikes that are perfect for families, such as the short, paved Badlands Loop Road, which offers spectacular views of the Badlands formations. The park also offers ranger-led programs and activities for children, such as the Junior Ranger program.

Great Basin National Park, located in Nevada, offers families the opportunity to explore the beautiful landscapes of the Great Basin region. The park features ancient bristlecone pine forests, limestone caverns, and the 13,063-foot-high Wheeler Peak. The park offers a variety of easy hikes, such as the Bristlecone Trail, which is a half-mile round-trip hike that takes visitors through a forest of ancient bristlecone pines, and the Lehman Creek Trail, which is a 1.5-mile round-trip hike that takes visitors through a beautiful alpine meadow.

In terms of family-friendliness, both parks offer a variety of activities and programs that are suitable for children and families. Both also offer easy hikes and ranger-led programs that help make the park experience more engaging for kids. Both parks have a variety of natural wonders and beautiful landscapes.

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