Badlands National Park Rules & Regulations


Rules & Regulations

Seemingly easy to explore, the Badlands of South Dakota are deceptively dangerous. Although most visitors respect the relative instability of the highest pinnacles in the park, the lower and more accessible sod tables and buttes can be hazardous. Read More

  • Your safety depends on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention.
  • There is little to no cell phone coverage in the Park.
  • No hunting and no campfires are permitted in Badlands National Park.
  • Dress in layers and wear closed toe leather shoes with good ankle support.

Rules of the Road

  • The speed limit is 45 miles per hour, unless otherwise posted.
  • Seatbelts are required for all passengers at all times.
  • When viewing wildlife drive cautiously and please use pull outs to allow others to pass safely.
  • Keep vehicles on established roads.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way.
  • Gravel roads may be closed due to heavy rain or snow.
  • Observe the speed limit and watch for wildlife crossing the roads.
  • Letting your vehicle idle is punishable by a fine.

Camping and Campfires

  • Campfires are NOT permitted due to the extreme danger of prairie wildfire.
  • Camp stoves or contained charcoal grills can be used in the campgrounds or picnic areas.
  • Wood gathering is NOT permitted.

Backcountry Camping & Hiking

  • Permits are not currently required for overnight stays in the Badlands backcountry. Contact a staff member at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center or Pinnacles Entrance Station before setting out on an overnight trip for more information.
  • Backcountry registers are located at the Medicine/Castle Trail Loop, Saddle Pass Trailhead, Conata Picnic Area, Sage Creek Basin Overlook, and the Sage Creek Campground.
  • The location of your campsite must be at least ½ miles from a road or trail and must not be visible from a roadway.
  • All refuse must be carried out.


  • Pets are allowed only on paved or gravel roads and in developed areas such as campgrounds.
  • Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
  • They are not allowed on trails or in public buildings.
  • Leaving an animal unattended and/or tied to an object is prohibited.
  • Pet etiquette dictates always cleaning up animal waste and disposing of it in trash receptacles.


  • Bicycles are prohibited on park trails.
  • Bicyclists are permitted on all park paved and unpaved roads and must obey all traffic regulations.

Preservation Rules

  • Leave fossils, flowers, rocks, and animals where you find them.
  • Do not enter, alter, or deface archeological sites.
  • Do not collect artifacts.
  • All vehicles and bicycles must travel on designated roads.
  • It is recommended that you stay on designated trails in high use areas such as Fossil Exhibit and Cliff Shelf


  • Hunting is strictly prohibited in Badlands National Park.

Safety Concerns

  • Summer is hot and dry. Carry and drink one gallon of water per person per day.
  • During lightning storms, avoid lone trees and high places. Return to your car, if possible.
  • Be careful on cliff edges and on badlands formations, especially when surfaces are wet.
  • Wear clothing and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Wear sturdy boots or shoes to protect your feet from cactus spines.
  • Beware of the rattlesnakes that reside in the park. Wear closed toe leather shoes. Be careful where you place your hands and feet.
  • Be careful when exploring buttes.
  • Check at the visitor center for weather updates.
  • Dress in layers, watch for changing weather conditions, and let someone know about your travel plans.
  • Watch your footing. Twisted or fractured ankles are the most common serious injury sustained in Badlands National Park. Make sure you are wearing sturdy boots with good ankle support. The park is home to many burrowing animals.
  • Cell phones will not work in most of the park.

Share Your Thoughts & Questions

In the Spotlight