Badlands National Park: 10 Animals We Saw While Hiking!!

Badlands National Park wildlife 1

Are you looking for a new adventure this summer? Join us as we explore the spectacular Badlands National Park and discover the incredible wildlife that inhabits it. From bighorn sheep to bald eagles, we will take you through our journey and share with you the amazing animals we saw along the way. So, lace up your hiking boots and join us for an exciting trip to explore Badlands National Park!


Bison are the largest land mammal in North America and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds! They are often seen in Badlands National Park grazing on the grasses and forbs that make up their diet. Bison are interesting animals to watch as they interact with their environment and each other. Although they appear slow and lumbering, bison can run up to 35 miles per hour!

Bison Badlands National Park wildlife

The Badlands of South Dakota are home to a growing herd of bison. They have been reintroduced to the area since the early 1990s, with more than 500 in the park today. This herd is helping to restore the Great Plains ecosystem, providing essential grazing for other wildlife and helping to maintain healthy habitats.

Bison can be seen in Badlands National Park during all four seasons, so it’s possible to catch a glimpse of them no matter when you visit. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to observe them during the summer months when they are most active. Be sure to keep your distance, as these large animals can be dangerous if provoked!

Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep are one of the most popular animals to see in Badlands National Park. Although they are not always easy to spot, they can often be seen grazing on the hillsides or resting in the shade. If you’re lucky enough to see one up close, you’ll notice its impressive horns and furry coat. These sheep are well-adapted to the harsh conditions of the Badlands and can often be seen hiking along the trails.

Pronghorn Badlands National Park wildlife 1

The bighorn sheep are an essential part of the Badlands’ ecosystem, as they help to maintain a balance between the many different species of plants and animals in the park. They also play an important role in controlling erosion by consuming vegetation and creating pathways for water to flow through. As one of the most iconic species of the Badlands, bighorn sheep are a must-see for any visitor to this amazing national park.


Pronghorn are one of the most iconic animals in Badlands National Park. These speedy creatures can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, making them the fastest land animal in North America. Pronghorn are relatively common in the park, and we saw several while hiking. They are most active in the early morning and evening hours, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re out on a hike during those times!

pronghorn Badlands National Park wildlife 1 1

If you want to see pronghorn up close, try visiting the Sage Creek Wilderness Area, which is the best place to spot them in the park. Be sure to maintain a safe distance from these animals as they can be easily startled and will run away if they feel threatened.

Pronghorn are an important part of the park’s ecology and play an integral role in maintaining healthy grasslands. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or just looking to take in the scenery, be sure to keep an eye out for these impressive creatures while visiting Badlands National Park.

Mule deer

Mule deer are the most commonly seen animals in Badlands National Park. They are often seen grazing on the prairie grasses or browsing on shrubs in the park. Mule deer are a type of deer that is found in North America and is related to the white-tailed deer. The mule deer gets its name from its large ears which resemble those of a mule.

Mule deer Badlands National Park wildlife

Mule deer are active during the day and rest in the shade or near dense vegetation during the heat of the day. They feed on a variety of grasses, forbs, shrubs and tree foliage as well as some agricultural crops. It is not uncommon to see mule deer grazing around campsites or along trails.

When viewing mule deer in Badlands National Park, it’s important to remember that they are wild animals and should be respected from a distance. For your safety and theirs, never approach or try to feed them.

Whitetail deer

Badlands National Park is home to a variety of different animals, including the whitetail deer. We were lucky enough to see a few of these deer while we were hiking through the park.

Whitetail deer Badlands National Park wildlife

The whitetail deer is the most common type of deer in North America. They are relatively small compared to other types of deer, with an adult male weighing in at around 150 pounds. Whitetail deer have a reddish-brown coat with a white underside and tail.

While we were hiking, we came across a few whitetail deer grazing on the grasses near the trail. They didn’t seem to mind us being there and we were able to get fairly close before they wandered off into the bushes.

It was really neat to see these beautiful creatures up close and we’re definitely hoping to spot more wildlife on our next hike!


Elk are one of the many animals that you might see while hiking in Badlands National Park. These majestic creatures can weigh up to 800 pounds and stand six feet tall at the shoulder. While they are most often seen in the fall and winter, elk can be spotted in the park year-round. Keep your eyes peeled for them while you’re out on the trails!

Elk Badlands National Park wildlife

If you do spot an elk, stay at least 100 yards away. Elk can be aggressive and unpredictable, so it’s important to give them their space. If the elk charges toward you, don’t run – instead, back away slowly and keep your eyes on the animal until it is out of sight.

Swift fox

We saw a Swift fox while hiking in Badlands National Park! It was so neat to see this little guy running around and playing in the snow. We were able to get some great pictures of him before he ran off into the distance.

Swift fox Badlands National Park wildlife

The Swift fox is a small species of fox that lives in shortgrass prairies and deserts. They are active during the day, and their diet consists mainly of small mammals, such as mice and ground squirrels. They can also eat insects and fruits.

Swift foxes are very low in numbers due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human activity. Because of this, they are listed as being a “vulnerable” species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

It was so awesome to be able to get a glimpse of this little guy while we were out hiking in Badlands National Park! We hope that he finds a safe home where he can thrive!

Black-footed ferrets

We were so excited to see a black-footed ferret while hiking in Badlands National Park! These little guys are so rare and we feel so lucky to have spotted one. They are only found in North America and their populations have declined significantly due to habitat loss and disease. We hope that by continuing to hike in places like Badlands National Park, we can help give them the habitat they need to thrive.

Black footed ferrets Badlands National Park wildlife

We stayed a safe distance away from the black-footed ferret to ensure we didn’t disturb it. After taking some pictures, we decided to move on and leave it in peace. Hopefully, it will continue to find food, shelter, and safety in this park for many years to come.

Mountain lion

Mountain lions are an iconic species of the American West.  They are also one of the most feared animals in North America. Although attacks on humans are rare, they do happen. 

While hiking in Badlands National Park, we came across fresh mountain lion tracks. We were immediately on high alert, making sure to make noise and keep our dogs close. We saw no sign of the lion and eventually continued on our hike. 

Although we didn’t see the mountain lion, just knowing it was nearby was enough to make our hike an adventure. If you’re hiking in mountain lion country, be sure to take precautions and know what to do if you encounter one.

Golden eagles

Golden eagles are one of the most majestic animals in North America. While we were hiking in Badlands National Park, we saw several golden eagles soaring overhead. It was an incredible experience to see such powerful and beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Golden eagles Badlands National Park wildlife

The golden eagles flew gracefully around the jagged cliffs and wide open spaces of the Badlands. We had a great view of them as they swooped in to perch on nearby ledges and then glided away again with ease.

We also noticed that these birds were quite vocal, often making loud cries as they moved through the area. It was an amazing experience to be able to witness such a majestic creature in its natural habitat. We left feeling inspired by their beauty and power.


Visiting Badlands National Park was truly an amazing experience. We are so glad we made the effort to visit and explore this unique environment, full of incredible wildlife. From bison to eagles, it was a delight to witness such majestic animals in their natural habitat. Thank you for reading about our journey through Badlands National Park and we hope that this article has helped inspire your own exploration of the park’s wonders!

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