Badlands National Park Travel Guide
|Sign at the entrance to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota|
Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota, near Rapid City and Mount Rushmore Memorial Park, and features sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires surrounded by a mixed-grass prairie ecosystem.
Situated in the the Northern Great Plains and named Mako Sica by the Lakota people, Badlands National Park has 244,000 acres of spectacular landscapes, native mixed grass prairie, a large variety of native wildlife, amazing fossils, wonderful skyscapes, and compelling human history.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including Bighorn Sheep, bobcats, badgers, Pronghorn Sheep, porcupines, prairie dogs, bison, mule deer and many others.
Skeletons of three-toed horses and saber-toothed cats are among the many fossilized species found in the park.
What to Do at the Badlands
Hiking, backpacking, camping, picnicking, bird watching, nighttime stargazing, and photography are popular pursuits within the park.
Popular with all visitors to the park is the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is at the southeastern tip of the loop, next to Cedar Pass Lodge. Ranger-guided programs and hikes are offered.
Spend a day, or more, and enjoy and explore Crater Lake National Park!
|The spectacular landscape of Badlands National Park|
|Driving the Badlands Loop on our recent trip to the Badlands National Park|
Lodging Options near the Badlands National Park
How to Get to the Badlands
Badlands National Park is located 75 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota.
|Stopping to enjoy the open spaces at Badlands National Park|
Interstate 90 (I-90) is located directly north of the park and provides access to the Highway 240, the Badlands Loop Road.
For those traveling west on I-90, take Exit 131 (Interior) and follow the signs directing vehicles south approximately three miles to the Northeast Entrance. For those traveling east on I-90, take Exit 110 at Wall, South Dakota. Follow signs directing vehicles south approximately seven miles to the Pinnacles Entrance.
State Highway 44 provides an alternate, scenic access to the park and intersects Highway 377 in the town of Interior. Follow 377 two miles north to the Interior Entrance.
The Highway 240 Badlands Loop Road, accessed from Interstate 90, is a two-lane, paved surface that takes you through the North Unit of the park.
The Sage Creek Rim Road (590) is a gravel road that takes you along the north rim of the Badlands Wilderness Area. Road may be temporarily closed after heavy rain or snow.
The Sheep Mountain Table Road is four miles south of Scenic, SD on Pennington County Road 589. High clearance vehicles are recommended. The road is passable under dry conditions only, and impassable when wet or covered with snow.
The Weather at Badlands
The Badlands weather is variable and unpredictable with temperature extremes ranging from 116F to -40F. Summers are hot and dry with occasional violent thunderstorms. Hailstorms and occasional tornadoes can descend on the Badlands with sudden fury. Winters are typically cold with 12 to 24 inches of total snowfall.
Of the sixteen inches of annual precipitation, most falls during the warmer months. June is the wettest month, while December and January are the driest.
Sudden and dramatic weather changes are common. Visitors are urged to dress in layers and be prepared with hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and adequate water for hiking.
Map of Badlands National Park (Courtesy of NPS)
|The Ben Reifel Visitor Center in Badlands National Park|
|Road tripping through Badlands National Park in south Dakota|
Scenes around Badlands National Park
|The Yellow Mounds Overlook at Badlands National Park|
|The yellow mounds at Badlands National Park|
|Trails at Badlands National Park: Door, Window, Notch and Castle|
|Varying colors of the grasses at Badlands National Park|
|Colorful plant life at Badlands National Park on an overcast day in September, 2018|
|The 75-Million-Year Walk at Badlands National Park|
|Bighorn Sheep in Badlands National Park|
|Prairie Dog in the Badlands National Park|
|The intricate stone crevices and valleys in Badlands National Park|
|The solitude and beauty of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota|
|The Saddle Pass Trail Head on a foggy day at Badlands National Park in 2018|
|No crowds today! Seen here is the Castle Trail on a quiet, foggy day at the Badlands National Park in 2018|
|The Notch Trail Ladder at Badlands National Park|
Interactive Map of the Badlands National Park Area
Visiting Badlands National Park During COVID Pandemic in 2021
During the COVID pandemic, the national parks of the United States offer wide open spaces, and opportunities for family fun, hiking, fishing, biking, plenty of fresh air and a break from the rigors of Coronavirus Lock Downs.
The National Park Service is closely monitoring and responding to the pandemic. Some facilities and services may be limited. As operations are changing on a park-by-park basis, we recommend visitors check with individual parks for specific details about their operations, including campgrounds.
So if you are visiting the Badlands or another national park, plan ahead ...
More Information about the Badlands
The address of the park is 25216 Ben Reifel Road, Interior, SD. Phone 605.433.5361