Badlands National Park

A view of Badlands National Park


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Rising up out of the flatlands of the great plains, the Badlands occupy over 370 square miles of western South Dakota, surprising and fascinating visitors with its unique and alien landscape. Along with its iconic vistas of eroded buttes and pinnacles, the park is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and bison.

Badlands National Park is just a few miles east of South Dakota’s famous Black Hills National Forest, a beautiful, tourism-driven landscape dotted with an abundance of quaint western towns. Immediately adjacent to the park, visitors can explore the small cities of Wall, Interior, and Scenic; South Dakota’s second-largest municipality, Rapid City, is just an hour northwest. When planning your trip, it can be difficult to know what weather to expect at Badlands, which can be unpredictable and extreme, with temperatures ranging from -40 F to over 110 F.

Travelers are drawn to the Badlands for its unique landscape, and frequently set out on foot to explore it better. Rangers lead an abundance of interpretive and educational talks and guided hikes to help orient guests to the Badlands wilderness. Other common park activities include bicycling, backcountry camping, and stargazing.

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  • Spring 55-65 F
  • Summer 80-85 F
  • Fall 60-70 F
  • Winter 30-35 F
Location & Hours
  • Coming soon
Park Info
  • Badlands National Park Private Vehicle: $20
  • Badlands National Park Motorcycle: $10
  • Badlands National Park Per Person: $10
Badlands National Park Hiking Trails

Badlands National Park Hiking Trails

Along with the park’s designated hiking trails, visitors are also free to explore the area on foot as they see fit, as well as to backcountry camp nearly anywhere within the park boundaries. However, explorers should keep in mind the park’s tendency toward extreme weather, as well as the landscape’s strenuous difficulty in certain areas -- which is actually how it got its name in the first place.

The National Park Service recommends you carry two quarts of water per person per two hour hike, and also that you wear a hat and sunglasses. Sturdy boots are necessary both for ankle stability and to protect your feet from cactus spines, and always keep at least 100 yards’ distance from any wildlife you may encounter.

Below, find brief descriptions of the park’s demarcated hiking opportunities.

Badlands National Park Trails

Things to do Outside Badlands National Park

Things to do Outside Badlands National Park

You could easily spend all day watching the sun cast its playful shadows on the ominous Badlands canyons and spires… but at some point, you’re gonna need to eat. And while you’re at it, there’s a ton of other fun stuff to do in western South Dakota -- and if you have the time, you won’t want to miss it.

Here are our suggestions for what to see, eat, and do outside of the park property.




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RV Resorts & Campsites in Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park features two on-site front country campgrounds, but only one, Cedar Pass, can accommodate motorhomes and travel trailers more than 18 feet in total combined length. If you’re tent camping, you can take advantage of the park’s liberal backcountry policy, which allows backpackers to camp anywhere in the park so long as you’re at least a half mile from, and invisible to, park trails and roads.

Although Cedar Pass fills up quickly, RVers can also choose from a wide variety of off-site campgrounds, including both resort-style properties and simpler accommodations.

RV Resorts & Campsites in Badlands National Park

Campgrounds Near Badlands National Park

Find the Best Dumpstations Near Badlands National Park

Find the Best Dumpstations Near Badlands National Park

An unglamorous but necessary aspect of RVing? Dump stations. Knowing where the best dump stations are near you will allow for more ease and less stress in your travels. Dump stations are an easy and convenient way to clear waste from your RV. Use our guides to find dump stations on your route, so you can get back to the good stuff – exploring, relaxing, and making memories on the road.

Dumpstations Near Badlands National Park

How to get to Badlands National Park

How to get to Badlands National Park

Traveling by RV is one of the most comfortable and convenient ways to experience any national park, and the Badlands are no exception. On-site RV camping gives you a front-row seat for the area’s stunning sunrises and sunsets, and the plethora of resort-style campgrounds give you the opportunity for a truly luxurious experience. If you don’t already have an RV of your own, be sure to check out RV rentals in your area. Whether you’re looking for a large motorhome or modest towable rig, the RV of your dreams may just be waiting for you on the peer-to-peer market.

Driving to Badlands National Park is quite simple thanks to its close proximity to I90. From the interstate, exit onto Highway 240, also known as Badlands Loop Road. Ample signage points you toward the park entrance. The official park page also offers specific addresses of the park headquarters and all three entrances in order to facilitate GPS usage. Click here for full details.

If you’re planning to fly in, the closest airport is Rapid City Regional Airport, which lies about 70 miles and one hour west of the park. You might also fly into a larger hub in the area and make a longer road trip out of it; Badlands is about six hours from Denver and eight from Minneapolis.

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Frequently Asked Questions
    Is Badlands National Park accessible for disabled visitors?

    Badlands National Park has wheelchair-accessible visitor centers, campgrounds, overlooks, and trails. Many scenic overlooks have boardwalks that accommodate wheelchairs including the Fossil Exhibit and Window Trails.

    What are the top things to do in Badlands National Park?

    Top things to do in Badlands National Park include a visit to the Fossil Preparation Lab, where you can watch paleontologists as they work on findings at the park. Check out the Ben Reifel and White River Visitor Centers to learn more about the park. Get a good view of the park by driving Badlands Loop Road and make plenty of time for stops along the way.

    Are there designated camping spots in Badlands National Park?

    Yes, Badlands National Park has two established campgrounds - Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground. Cedar Pass Campground has electric-only service, along with pay showers and flush toilets. Sage Creek does not allow motor homes, pull behind trailers, and other recreational vehicles greater than 18 feet long.

    How large is Badlands National Park?

    Badlands National Park encompasses 244,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie and the wildlife that call the area home. The park also features intriguing geologic formations and layers.

    What is the best time of year to visit Badlands National Park?

    The best time to visit Badlands National Park is in spring, from April to early June, and fall, from September to November. You will avoid the crowds of summer visitors, and the weather will be cooler so hiking and exploring the park will be more pleasant.