Badlands are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, loose, brittle soils and high drainage density. Canyons, ravines, gullies, hoodoos, pedastals and other such geological forms are common in badlands. Badlands often have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria (volcanic soil). Foot travel can be difficult even when dry and when wet is nearly impossible due to the slickness of the clay-like soils after rains. Climbing or scrambling on badlands is extremely dangerous due to the fragility of the topsoils, as well as destructive to the landforms.

The badlands near Moody Canyon and Deer Point in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are named the Purple Hills, due to their vivid purple and red colored bentonite soils. Most of the badlands in this area have bright orange colored Navajo sandstone caps, making for an extremely colorful scene hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes.