Badlands National Park vs. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Badlands National Park and New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll take a look at what they have to offer in terms of hiking and wildlife, plus what the best time of year to visit might be.

Let’s get started with an overview of Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park Overview

Badlands National Park is an incredible natural landscape located in the US state of South Dakota. Founded in 1941, Badlands is known for its sweeping canyons, rolling hills, and dramatic rock formations. The park is renowned for its rich variety of plants and animals, ranging from prickly cactus plants to bighorn sheep. There are also a number of historic sites within Badlands National Park, including Native American settlements and homesteads that exemplify the adventurous spirit of early settlers in the area. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day hiking through scenic vistas or exploring the fascinating history of this iconic national park, Badlands has something for everyone!

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Overview

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a beautiful and diverse destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Located in West Virginia, this expansive park spans more than 1,700 square miles and features rugged mountain scenery, winding rivers, picturesque waterfalls, steep canyons, lush forests, and abundant wildlife. With so much to see and do, New River Gorge is the perfect choice for anyone looking to get outside and explore the great outdoors. Whether you’re interested in hiking or biking along scenic trails or rafting or kayaking down rushing rivers, New River Gorge has something to offer everyone. So why not plan your next trip today? Whether you’re looking for adventure or simply a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, New River Gorge is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. Get outside and discover what New River Gorge has to offer!

Hiking At National Parks

Most national parks have some of the best hiking trails you’ll find anywhere in the US.

If you’re planning to take along your furry friend, double-check the rules before you go – as many of the parks have different rules about bringing animals along with you.

Badlands National Park Hiking Trails

Badlands National Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in the country. For those looking for an easy hike, the one-mile Notch Trail is a great option. The trailhead is located near the park visitor center, and the trail itself is relatively flat and well-maintained. For those looking for a more challenging hike, the seven-mile Castle Trail is a great option. The trailhead is located near the high point of Badlands Loop Road, and the trail features a number of steep climbs. However, hikers are rewarded with stunning views of Badlands formations along the way.

Best Hikes At Badlands National Park

The ratings below are based on user-submitted data at AllTrails.com

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Sage Creek Loop 245.9736 5 loop 4
Sheep Mountain Table Road 180.7464 3 out and back 4.5
Notch Trail 39.9288 3 out and back 4.5
Castle Trail 95.7072 3 loop 4.5
The Door Trail 10.9728 3 out and back 4.5
Saddle Pass Trail 65.8368 3 out and back 4.5
Medicine Root Loop Trail 102.7176 1 loop 4
The Window Trail 1.8288 1 out and back 4
Cliff Shelf Nature Trail 19.812 1 loop 4
Fossil Exhibit Trail 3.9624 1 out and back 3.5

Hiking Overview at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

New River Gorge National Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in the country. The park, which is located in southern West Virginia, features more than 50 miles of trails that wind through a variety of terrains. While all of the trails offer stunning views of the New River Gorge, each one has its own unique challenges.

For those looking for an easy hike, the Fayetteville Trail is a great option. This two-mile trail winds through a forest and offers gentle elevation changes. The trail can be accessed from the Fayetteville Visitors Center and is perfect for families or those who are new to hiking.

For those looking for a more challenging hike, the New River Gorge Trail is the longest and most difficult trail in the park. This 31-mile trail follows the New River from one end of the gorge to the other. Along the way, hikers will need to navigate steep cliffs, narrow ledges, and deep ravines. The New River Gorge Trail is only recommended for experienced hikers who are properly prepared for a multi-day adventure.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Upper Sand Creek Lake Trail 598.932 7 out and back 4.5
Medano Lake Trail 697.992 3 out and back 4
Montville Nature Trail 26.8224 1 loop 4
Dunes Overlook Sand Ramp Trail 80.772 3 out and back 3.5
Little Medano Creek Trail to Medano Lake 1079.9064 3 out and back 4
Wellington Ditch Trail 47.8536 1 out and back 4
Dunes Overlook Trail 143.8656 3 out and back 4
Pinion Flats Campground Trail 26.8224 1 loop 4
High Dune Trail 191.7192 5 out and back 5
High and Star Dune Loop 403.86 3 loop 4.5

Wildlife at Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is home to a diverse array of plants and animals. The park’s landscape includes prairies, grasslands, and Badlands formations, providing habitat for many different species. Visitors to the park can expect to see bison, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer. Badlands National Park is also home to a variety of reptiles, including snakes and lizards. In addition, the park is home to more than 400 species of birds, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers. With such a diverse array of wildlife, Badlands National Park is an excellent place to enjoy the outdoors and observe some of America’s most iconic animals.

Wildlife at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

At New River Gorge National Park, you can expect to see a wide range of beautiful wildlife. Whether you’re gazing at towering trees or trekking through muddy marshes, you are sure to encounter an array of animals and plants along the way. Some of the most common species include deer, foxes, squirrels, turkeys, wild turkeys, salamanders, snakes, lizards, hawks, eagles, crows and blue jays. Additionally, New River Gorge is home to many different types of flora including ferns, mosses, conifers and deciduous trees. Whether you’re exploring on your own or partaking in one of the park’s many guided tours and hikes, New River Gorge has something to offer for all nature-lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike!

What’s the best time to visit?

A lot of times, weather can dictate when it makes the most sense to visit a particular national park.

Plus, depending on the types of activities you’re hoping to take part in, seasonality will be a huge factor in whether those things are even available.

Badlands National Park Weather Considerations

Badlands National Park experiences a wide range of weather conditions throughout the year. Temperatures can vary widely, from below freezing in the winter to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The park also receives a significant amount of rainfall, which can make hiking and camping difficult. As a result, the best time to visit Badlands National Park depends on what activities you want to do. If you’re interested in hiking and camping, the spring months are typically the best time to go, as the weather is milder and there is less chance of rain. However, if you’re simply looking to enjoy the scenery, any time of year can be a good time to visit. No matter when you go, Badlands National Park is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Weather Considerations

New River Gorge National Park is a great place to visit any time of year, but the best time to go depends on what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re interested in hiking, the spring and fall are ideal because the temperatures are moderate and there’s less chance of rain. However, if you’re looking to whitewater raft, the summer is the best time to visit since that’s when the water level is at its highest. On the other hand, winter can be a magical time at New River Gorge National Park, especially if you’re hoping to see some snow. So whether you’re looking for adventure or peace and quiet, be sure to check the New River Gorge National Park weather forecast before planning your trip.