Contrary to its name, the Badlands are quite beautiful! The area was originally named mako sica or bad lands by the Lakota people because of its rocky terrain, extreme temperatures, and lack of water. Now, it’s a great place to take in the landscape and see wildlife.
Badlands National Park has one of the world’s richest fossil beds. It is also home to many species today, including bison and prairie dogs.
Early Fall (September) is the best time to visit Badlands National Park since the temperatures are cool and mild and crowds have dissipated.
The Badlands Loop Road is open to vehicles 24 hours a day. Just drive carefully, and watch out for wildlife on the road.
You can visit Badlands National Park without reservations. If you plan on staying nearby, book early since accommodations can book up during the high season.
Badlands National Park Fees are as follows (all are good for seven days):
$30 Private Vehicle (for a car and its occupants)
$15 Individual (hikers or bikers)
$55 Badlands National Park Annual Fee
$80 National Park Annual Pass
To drive through the National Park, you will need to pay the park entrance fees unless you have a National Park Annual Pass.
Hours of Operation
Badlands National Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the winter or extreme weather conditions, roads may be closed.
The most popular drive at Badlands National Park is the Badlands Loop Road starting in the town of Wall. It will take you through viewpoints, trailheads, and the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Park rangers recommend two full days to experience the park.
Overall, it’s one of the least visited national parks in the US and is much less crowded than parks like Zion, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. The busiest time at Badlands is in the summer, particularly July and August.
Check out their official site for the park’s current conditions.
The park has two units. The North Unit has two main roads and is the most popular part of the park. The South Unit doesn’t have any roads that go through it, but you can drive up Sheep Mountain Table and do a scenic drive around the South Unit. The Badlands stretch for a hundred miles through the plains of South Dakota.