Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
31.00 ft (9.45 m)
Trail type
0.25 mi (0.40 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

As you look around the arid Badlands National Park, it may seem hard to believe that the region was once an inland sea and then developed into a tropical rainforest. Numerous fossils are mixed with the sediments from this time period, known as the Oligocene age. In fact, this region has one of the world’s highest concentrations of fossils. Fossil evidence of many species, including saber-tooth cats and elephant-sized mammals, have been found here. Interestingly, major museums in North America and in Europe showcase fossils from the Badlands.

A unique way to view this natural history is to take the easy, 0.25-mile round-trip Fossil Exhibit Trail. From this fully-accessible boardwalk trail, you can view iconic Badlands formations and learn about some of the extinct animals that lived here. Fascinating fossil replicas are housed in display cases along the trail.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Educational walk. Interesting natural history. Easily access. Great scenery.


Moisture in some display cases can obstruct the view of the fossils.

Trailhead Elevation

2,668.00 ft (813.21 m)


Backcountry camping
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
ADA accessible
Geologically significant
Big Game Watching



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