Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park, located in southwestern South Dakota, is a mixed grass ecosystem that is unlike any other on earth.

Overview

The Badlands National Park was first established as a National Monument in 1939 and became a National Park in 1978. Of the 244,000 acres, 64,144 is designated as Wilderness Area. The Badlands of South Dakota is one of the richest mammal fossil beds in the world. The Park is co-managed with the Oglala Lakota Nation.

Location/Directions

This National Park can be found in southwestern South Dakota and can be reached with no difficulty by car. Interstate 90 (I-90) is located directly north of the park and provides access to the Badlands Loop Road. 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 gate.

Badlands National Park
25216 Ben Reifel Road
P.O. Box 6
Interior, SD 57750
Park Headquarters (605) 433-5361
Park Website

Seasons

Badlands National Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

Activities

  • Scenic Drives: For a short but very scenic drive inside the Park, take the Highway 240 Loop Road. The approximate time for this loop is 60 minutes.
  • Wildlife Viewing: One of the favorite things to do is to drive down the Sage Creek Rim Road to Robert’s Prairie Dog Town to see black-tailed prairie dogs "barking" their warnings and protecting their "town."  This is also your best route to have an opportunity to possibly see bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, deer, eagles, hawks and foxes.
  • Hiking: There are several hiking trails in the Park. The majority of these are easy to moderate and allows the entire family to get out of the car and up close to the natural beauty of the Badlands National Park. For example –
    Door Trail
    This easy and accessible trail is only .75 miles roundtrip. The average time to complete the trail is 20 minutes. The trail leads through a break in the Badlands Wall known as “the Door” and to a view of the Badlands.
    Castle Trail
    This trail is moderate in difficulty and is 10 miles roundtrip. It is the longest trail in the Park. It is relatively level and is consider moderate primarily for its length. Plan on about 5 hour to complete this out and back hike.
    Medicine Root Loop
    This generally rolling spur trail connects with the Castle Trail and is 4 miles roundtrip. You will be able to explore the mixed grass prairie while enjoying views of the Badlands in the distance while hiking on this trail. The trail takes about 2 hours to complete.
  • Ranger Led Programs: Ranger led programs in the Badlands National Park include a night sky program which takes place from June to mid September, geology walk, fossil talk, prairie walk and especially for the kids, the Junior Ranger Program.
  • Camping: The Park has one developed campground, the Cedar Pass Campground which is located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. It has 96 sites and is a first come, first served campground. This campground has cold running water and flush toilets, but there are no showers. Further, it should be noted that open campfires are not permitted. Alternatively, you can stay at the single park lodge, Cedar Pass Lodge

Additional Info

Unique among the Nation’s National Park, the Badlands National Park combines paleontology, geology, prairie land studies and human history all in one area. About half of the park is made up of a mixed grass ecosystem that is unlike any other on earth; it consists of many native plants and animals. The black-footed ferret, one of the most endangered mammals in North America, makes its home here.

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