Trails In The Eroded Landscape of Badlands National Park
The Badlands National Park In the southwest corner of South Dakota about 60 miles east of Rapid City and Mount Rushmore offers some stunning landscapes with its many short hikes and day hikes. From the loop road hikes are offered below the viewing areas along with sightseeing from the loop road and its frequent pull-outs.
An eroded landscape of stratified layers of variously colored deposits spreads over a huge area of grasslands.
Enter the loop road from Route I-90, the east coast to west coast interstate highway, at either the east end or at the west end. The east west loop road is just a small portion of the immense Badlands National Park.
Find six Hikes of varied length and difficulty on the loop Road.
Badlands National Park offers Tent and RV camping for $15 per night.
The park has an RV Dump station with a fee of $1.00 for those passing through. The park offers a self-pay kiosk that accepts credit card or correct change for the campsite. The sites are small sites with no shade trees.
Many wild animals inhabit the park, common sights being the prong horn antelope, the mule deer, and, in the Sage Creek section of the park, the wild buffalo. Buffalo were reintroduced and now number 800 animals.
Rattle snakes inhabit the park and therefore, visitors are cautioned to wear hiking boots and to stay on the trails.
From the parks overlooks and viewpoints you can see wild animals grazing in the flat grassland below. Binoculars help to see them as they keep their distance from the road except in early morning or at dusk when they are more apt to be on the move.
Lynx or bobcat work the roadsides for road kill. An extensive Prairie Dog town lies on both sides of the road at about the midpoint of the loop road. Big horn sheep and coyotes are also residents
RV vacationers use the park as a convenient stopover on the way west or east on route I-90; the park's loop road is an east/west road. Bikers on the way to the first week in August rally at Sturgis ND make the park a stop on the way. ($15 entrance per vehicle, $10 motorcycle, 7 hiker or biker)
The Badlands Loop Road opens up great views with its vista points, overlooks, and hiking trail heads. See trail descriptions
The east west loop road, Route 240, runs about 40 miles between the east and west exits on I-90
The Badlands Loop Road is great for hiking and sightseeing South Dakota's Badlands National Park.
The loop road Route 240 runs parallel to the I-90 for Forty Miles through the eroded landscape of Badlands NP.
There are many sightseeing overlooks with parking and trailheads for hiking into the badlands. Not all lots will accommodate large vehicles. Maps are available at the park Visitors Center.
Trail length ranges from the quarter mile Fossil Exhibit Trail, which is wheelchair accessible, to the five-mile Cliff Shelf Nature Trail to the ten mile round trip Castle Trail.
From the overlooks it is common to see the animals graze on the vast prairie below the loop road ridge.
Drive through the campground, pick an unoccupied site, pay at the kiosk, and clip your receipt to the post and you are ready to tour the loop road.
Private campgrounds are nearby in the town of Interior. (9 miles from Visitor center) Tent and RV Camping
Badlands Loop Road hiking from the trailheads on Route 240 where you find parking.
The Badlands Loop Road offers hiking trails into the eroded landscape of Badlands National Park. Find the trailheads and parking on Route 240 as it runs through the Badlands and offers many sightseeing pullouts.
Badlands Loop Road Sightseeing,
Touring the Loop Road of Badlands N P
Sightseeing pullouts on the Badlands Loop Road offers hiking and views of animals grazing
Badlands Loop Road Sightseeing while touring
Badlands Loop Road Sightseeing,
reveals a tormented landscape
The longest hike of the seven trails from the Loop Road is the Castle Trail at ten miles RT. It starts at the Fossil Exhibit Trail , Windows Trail parking area.
Another trail of 1.5 miles RT, The Notch Trail, offers a climb by ladder and some ridge walking to good views.
Otherwise the trails are short and easy for beginner hikers. The challenge could be the heat and weather extremes. Trail maps are available at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
The Sage Creek area, 30 miles west of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, offers extensive back country hiking and camping.
The Badlands Loop Road reveals animals on the move at dusk from the vista points, overlooks, and hiking trail heads
Park Entrance Fees
$7. individual Hiker or biker
Camping with electrical hookup $28
How to Reach the Badlands:
The nearest large city is Rapid City South Dakota. Air service reaches Rapid City from hubs in Denver and Chicago.
Rental cars are available at the airport. From Rapid City take scenic Route 44 east to Interior and the National Park campground or take Route route 90 east to Wall and find the Park entrance and loop road.
Best Time To Visit Badlands South Dakota:
May 40 f at night 65 f days
The weather is perfect June, July, August but the mid day temperature can reach over 100f. June is a wet month. July and August can have thunderstorms with hail.
September, 40 f at night 65 f days
Cold and winter snows possible October to April Total snow 2 feet per year.
Badlands Loop Road