The Badlands are one of the most well-known national parks in the world, due to its intriguing history, beautiful scenery, and enticing name. A major contributing factor to why people find the Badlands to be an awesome NP, is that it was once inhabited by ancient mammals like the saber-toothed cat and the Rhinoceros.
Prairie dogs, bison, sheep, and black-footed ferrets are all inhabitants of the Badlands today. Located in the state of South Dakota, the park itself spans across over 200,000 acres, leaving much to be explored by visitors.
When can I visit the Badlands National Park?
Park hours for the Badlands are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However the Ben Reifel Visitor Center has varying hours: During the winter, it is open from 8 AM – 4 PM. During spring it is open from 8 AM – 5 PM. During the summer it is open from 8 AM – 7 PM, and during fall it is open from 8 AM – 5 PM. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is CLOSED on Chirstmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving Day.
For any additional inquiries you can contact the visitor center via phone at (605) 433-5361.
How much does it cost to visit the Badlands National Park?
Entrance for a non-commercial vehicle costs $15, and is valid for up to seven days after purchase. For a motorcycle entrance the cost is $10 for 7 days. Individuals travelling by foot or bicycle can enter the park for just $7, as well as retain that pass for up to seven days. Local residents or recurring tourists may be interested in purchasing an annual pass to the Badlands, which is valid for a year and costs $30.
What is there to do in the Badlands National Park?
One of the main attractions at the Badlands is the Fossil Preparation Lab, also referred to as the Paleontology Lab. This lab is open from June 1st – September 21st and operation hours run from 9 AM – 4:30 PM. Visitors are able to watch the paleontologists working while learning more and more about the Badlands historic fossil discoveries that have been made.
Obviously another selling point of the Badlands or of pretty much any national park is the hiking. The Badlands offers one of the most diverse hiking experiences as there is a huge variety of different trails to embark on, everything from flat stretches to tough climbs up the various rock formations. New visitors are encouraged to visit the Ben Reifel Visitor Center for information prior to embarking on any hiking.
Those who are looking for a place to camp out for the night or weekend can find campsites at both Cedar Pass and Sage Creek. The Cedar Pass Campground is located very close to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and offers water fountains, restrooms, and picnic tables. Pricing is either $16 per night for regular campsites, or $28 per night if the campsite has electrical hook-ups.
If you’d rather try out the Sage Creek Campground, you can find it right off of the Sage Creek Rim Road. Sage Creek is recommended for the more daring folk who visit the Badlands, it offers restrooms (although they are pit toilets compared to the Cedar Pass flush toilets), and picnic tables. There is no running water available at Sage Creek, and availability is first come, first served. If you’re in search of a more rough night of camping, this is the spot to choose, you may even see a Bison or two wandering through your campsite at this location.