The Badlands National Park has to be one of the most fascinating and unique places to visit in the entire National Park System. Located in the rolling prairies of South Dakota, it might be one of the more remote parks but is also one of the largest encompassing almost 250,000 acres.

Badlands National Park Travel Guide

Badlands really offers it all, it’s full of history, first discovered by the Native American Lakota tribe who gave the area its name, it has been home to one of the richest findings of fossils in all of North America. This alone brings tens of thousands of visitors to the Badlands National Park each year.

See Bison at Badlands National Park

There is plenty of things to do at Badlands, all throughout the year. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular activities.

Badlands Loop

For a scenery-filled ride to take in a portion of the park, many visitors enjoy driving along the Badlands Loop. This paved road takes you winding through about 40 miles of the park, allowing you to get a quick view of the hills and valleys easily.

A panoramic view of Badlands National Park against a sunset.

Fossil Prep Lab

It can be argued the biggest draw for visitors to the Badlands is the incredible geology and fossils that can be found there. This area has been found to contain a huge number of fossils dating about 33 million years old! Some fossils found include sabre tooth tigers and three-toed horses.

To learn more about the fossils, the park offers a Fossil Prep Lab, which gives visitors the opportunity to be educated by and observe the world of paleontologists who are working on new discoveries.

Landscape view of Badlands National Park

Hiking and Camping

Of course, no National Park is complete without a full array of hiking and camping opportunities, and Badlands does not disappoint. There are two main campgrounds at Badlands, Sage Creek which is more primitive and Cedar Pass which offers beautiful views.

In terms of hiking, there are a number of trails that offer opportunities for every level. Some of the easier trails would be the Door Trail and the Fossil Exhibit Trail. For more moderate hikes, check out the longer Medicine Root Loop or the shorter Cliff Shelf. If you are an adventurous the shorter routes at Badlands are some of the more strenuous, but rewarding, try the Saddle Pass and the Notch Trail.

These activities will give you a very well rounded idea of what you can do in the Badlands National Park throughout the year.

You may also want to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Mount Rushmore nearby! Have you ever been to Badlands? What did you love about it? Let us know in the comments!

Explore the beautiful South Dakota Badlands