Plan your Visit to
Badlands National Park
South Dakota’s Favorite Place
Badlands National Park may sound as though it is a place where no one wants to visit from just its name, but with over 1 million people visiting this 242,756-acre park you can bet that you and your family will want to come to this amazing national park again and again. The area that Badlands National Park sits on has always been popular among hunters for the rich bison, rabbit, and other game found within, but in 1978, hunting was forever taken away from the land when Badlands National Park was born. Since then wilderness activities have thrived here.
- Best Park for Accessibility
- Best Park for Fun Activities
- Best Parks to experience the Wild West
When to go
May – June – July – August – September
Badlands National Park Activities
Stunning Vistas – Wildlife – Horseback Riding – Hiking – Biking – Scenic Drives – Bird-Watching
Hike the Badlands
A hike with the family is the best way to enjoy time with one another, but with the varied experience levels of the members of the family, it can be difficult to find a hiking experience that is good for everyone. Badlands National Park has a variety of different trails that make it possible for anyone to hike regardless of experience or age. Trails within the park come as easy as Window Trail at .25 miles and the Door Trail at .75 miles to moderate trails such as the 1.5-mile Notch Trail and the .5-mile Cliff Shelf Trail. Should experience level not be an issue you can choose the most strenuous trail of Saddle Pass which takes hikers over the Badlands Wall. No matter which one you choose, you are sure to have a great experience.
Watch for Wildlife
Even if you do not go to a national park just to get the chance to see wild animals, you will likely see one or two on your travels. Badlands National Park is one of the many parks that contains a vast menagerie of beautiful animals in their natural habitat. One of the most obvious animals is the bison that roam Badlands National Park, but a look into all of the animals within the park will reveal that there is far more to see than these mammoth creatures grazing in the fields. The areas are also home to 206 bird species and many different types of amphibious animals such as the common snapping turtle and the most feared beast of them all, the Prairie Rattlesnake. Caution should always be taken when dealing with any animal of any species, so never feed the animals and keep your distance so as not to disturb their natural setting
Astronomy at its Best
Few people get the chance to see the stars at night with their true potential shining through. We see a few stars and think that it is enough, but if you want to see a showing of stars like nothing else, a trip to Badlands National Park at night is in order. Seeing the unbridled and wild nature of the stars is nothing short of amazing and from Badlands National Park you will be able to gaze up at them from one of the only national dark sky parks around. Not only will you get to see the stars that you already may have seen, but you will be able to see the swirling imagery of the Milky Way up close the way most of us only get to view it from a science book picture. A campout under the stars in Badlands National Park seems to put everything back into perspective in the best way possible.
Things to Know
A trip to Badlands National Park is not free like in some of the other national parks you may have visited. The entrance fee makes it possible for the rangers to maintain the park making it possible for families to continually visit year after year. The fees however are quite minimal when you factor in the fact that a one-time fee pays for 7 days’ entry into Badlands National Park. The fee for a passenger vehicle, is only $15 for the 7-day pass and $10 for anyone traveling on motorcycle. There is a $7 fee for anyone arriving on foot or non-motorized transportation.
Camping in Badlands National Park is a great experience, not only for the chance to see the stars, but also to view the changing view of the rock formations throughout the park. Camping fees start at $22 and go up depending on the amenities you require for your family. Reservations are not always required, but during the busy summer months it is a good idea to call ahead to ensure you will have a place to sleep for the night. All campsites have a covered picnic table to help keep you out of the hot desert sun.
Download a Badlands National Park Map
Planning a Badlands National Park? Be sure to download the official Badlands National Parke map, below, or use our interactive maps to find restaurants, hotels, or activities along the route of your choosing in and around the park. Either way, don’t leave home without a map of Badlands National Park. This free Badlands National Park map shows park roads, attractions, and more.
Average High/Low Temperatures
Official Badlands National Park Map – Click on the Map to download