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Badlands National Park


25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD  57750

60 min
Daily and Year Round
24 Hours/Day
$30/Private Vehicle
$15/Individual (Hiking, Bicycling, etc.)

Annual Pass:
$50/Private Vehicle

Commercial Costs Listed Below

43.7490861, -101.9416725

Drive east of Rapid City and you’re truly in another world. Badlands National Park is a 244,000-acre experience you won’t find anywhere else with unmatched scenery that just might make you wonder if you’ve stepped onto another planet. Vast and endlessly fascinating, a visit to the dramatically striated rock formations of the Badlands is a must for your Do Big Things vacation and the perfect complement to a visit to Mount Rushmore. Featuring a 60-mile stretch of rugged terrain that is as colorful as it is desolate, as well as mixed grass prairie, geologic formations like the Badlands Wall, fossils and mind-blowing night skies, the experience is a standout among Rapid City parks and monuments, and an ideal place to celebrate the wonders of nature.

When the Lakota first discovered this intimidating landscape, they called the area “mako sica” or “land bad.” Important hunting grounds for 11,000 years, the Badlands continue to be a region of great spiritual significance to American Indians, making a visit an essential addition to your Native American Discovery journey.

It’s tough to determine just how long it took for the soft rock formations of Badlands National Park to become the cones, ridges, buttes and precipices you see today. Whether it took 26 million or 75 million years for time, wind and rain to create this surreal landscape, the South Dakota Badlands are spectacular to behold. As far as the eye can see, layers of delicately colored rock are like pages of time still revealing their secrets. In fact, a single thunderstorm can cause enough erosion to unearth the fossils of a prehistoric mammal – and you might be the first to discover it.

The early Lakota found large fossilized bones, seashells and turtle shells. As westward migration brought settlers, trappers and hunters to the area, paleontological interest grew, making the White River Badlands popular fossil hunting grounds in the mid-1800s. The area contains the richest deposits of Oligocene mammals known, giving us a glimpse of the area’s residents 33 million years ago.


Start Your Day At The Ben Reifel Visitor Center

You’ll find exhibits and an informational video at the Visitor Center, along with a bookstore offering resources, gifts and educational materials. Located on the Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) at its southeastern tip, next to Cedar Pass Lodge.

Learn More From Ranger Programs

Seasonal daily ranger-led programs offer walks, talks and presentations about geology, paleontology, fossils, night sky viewing and more. Ask for updated info at the Visitor Center, including the Junior Ranger Program.

Drive the Badlands Loops State Scenic Highway

The grandeur and diverse landscape of the Badlands is ideal for cruising, and Highway 240 gives you the perfect vantage point at every turn of a 39-mile loop. Sixteen scenic overlooks provide impressive photo opportunities.

View Wildlife Along The Sage Creek Rim Road

Turn off the western end of the Badlands Loop Road onto the Sage Creek Rim Road, where outdoor photography enthusiasts find diverse wildlife, including buffalo, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, prairie dogs and numerous birds.

Buffalo in Badlands National Park

Explore Fossil Sites

Badlands National Park is among the area’s most popular archaeology and paleontology attractions. Fossil hunting is allowed in the park, as long as you leave all discoveries right where you find them, along with all rocks and minerals. Visit the Fossil Preparation Lab to watch paleontologists at work. A fully accessible boardwalk trail features fossil replicas and exhibits of extinct creatures.

Enjoy Some Stargazing

See the summer sky as never before, with a ranger-guided Night Sky Program helping you identify what’s out there in the heavens. Telescopes are provided, along with a spectacular viewing experience, thanks to the Badlands’ isolation and absence of artificial lighting.

Visit Roberts Prairie Dog Town

Prairie Dog Town is on the Sage Creek Rim Road, where a homestead has been converted to a massive network of tunnels where you can see black-tailed prairie dogs up close. They join 39 mammal species of the prairie animals that thrive in Badlands National Park, along with various reptiles, amphibians, birds and 69 butterfly species.

Follow The Trails

A variety of designated hiking trails let you explore Badlands National Park at a deeper level. It’s a good idea to check in at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center for recommendations that suit your experience level. Bicycling is also popular in the park, with resources available to help you plan the right course.

Hiking in Badlands National Park


Wall Drug

The town of Wall, South Dakota, was named for the steep rock formations that define the Badlands and is famous for the small town drugstore with a big reputation as a free attraction. Wall Drug offers much more than the basics, from Black Hills souvenirs and jackalopes to Native American artifacts, pottery and a Western Art Gallery Restaurant. Wall Drug is open year-round.


1880 Town

Visit South Dakota’s original 1880 Town for a view of life on the prairie at a frontier homestead. The village of more than 30 buildings is furnished with thousands of relics and features an exhibit of Dances With Wolves movie props. Take a wagon ride and order a sarsaparilla at the Longhorn Saloon, where costume rentals are available to make your visit a real trip to the past. You’ll find dining and entertainment, including Wild Bill’s rope tricks and comedy shows.

COVID-19 Update

An outdoor tent is available for Visitor Information from 9am - 4pm weather permitting. 

You’ll find exhibits and an informational video at the Visitor Center, along with a bookstore offering resources, gifts and educational materials. Located on the Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) at its southeastern tip, next to Cedar Pass Lodge.

Season Hours:
  • 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Winter Hours)
  • 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (mid-April to mid-May)
  • 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Summer Hours)
  • 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (early September to late October)
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
  • Commercial sedan, 1 to 6 passenger capacity. $25 plus $10 per person - 7 days for Original Manifest
  • Commercial van, 7 to 15 passenger capacity; $50 - 7 days for Original Manifest
  • Minibus, 16 to 25 passenger capacity; $60 - 7 days for Original Manifest
  • Motorcoach, 26 or more passenger capacity; $150 - 7 days for Original Manifest

The Badlands National Park is open to all visitors. The visitor center is currently using an outdoor tent for all visitor questions. The tent is up from 9am - 4pm daily, weather permitting and is practicing social distancing by only allowing 4 people in at a time. 

All sales are credit card only and handled solely by the customer. 

There is a sanitizing station set up at the end of the sale before leaving the tent. 

Masks are required for all staff and encouraged for anyone entering the tent.

Multiple staff will be outside the tent to answer questions before entering the sales tent, so that time spent in the tent is as efficient as possible.