Badlands National Park is a gorgeous national park located in South Dakota. Home to unique and stunning landscapes and rock formations, there is no shortage of interesting things to do while visiting the park. From stargazing to hiking, here are our top 5 suggestions for things to do while visiting the park – as well as some tips on having the most enjoyable experience!
Badlands National Park is home to a ton of great hiking trails! Whether you’re a new hiker looking for a short excursion or an experienced hiker looking for a more challenging trail, here are some specific recommendations. Families with young children or those looking for a short and sweet hike with a great view will want to check out Door Trail. 0.75 miles, it leads to a great view of the Badlands. If you’re wanting an intermediate trail, Medicine Root Loop Trail is 4 miles round trip and a great option! Finally, those up for a bit of a challenge will want to consider Castle Trail. While this trail is pretty level the whole way, it is also 11 miles roundtrip.
This national park is a great place to view the starry night skies above us! Thanks to its remote location, the park doesn’t have very much light pollution. This means you’ll have a great view of the constellations. If you’re visiting in the fall, spring, or summer, you may also want to check out the Night Sky program. Offered in the evenings, astronomers will guide guests through exploring the stars with telescopes provided. This can be a great way to not only view the night sky but also learn more about the various features you are viewing! The exact time of the programs varies with when the sunsets, but is usually between 9-10 pm.
3. View The Sunset And Sunrise
Catching a sunrise or sunset can be especially magical in Badlands National Park! Thanks to the area’s unique and stunning rock formations and scenery, viewing the rising or setting sun will be especially memorable. Some great sunrise viewing spots are the Big Badlands Overlook as well as Door Trail (0.75 miles). For sunset viewing spots, check out Pinnacles Overlook or Conata Basin Overlook. This is an especially great option for aspiring photographs or those looking to capture some memorable images. Both dusk and dawn in Badlands National Park typically feature dramatic lighting that makes for great scenic photos.
4. Wildlife Watching
Badlands National Park has a wide variety of wildlife residing within its borders. Some – but not all – of the animals you may be able to see include bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and several kinds of birds of prey. Heading out at either dawn or dusk can be a great choice to increase your chances of seeing wildlife. As far as specific locations to head to, consider driving Sage Creek Rim Road or Badlands Loop Road – both are common areas to see wildlife in. As in any other outdoor setting, it’s important to keep in mind that wildlife is wild – for the safety of both animals and guests, a safe distance should be kept at all times.
Consider adding camping to your itinerary for Badlands National Park! Badlands has two campgrounds within the park borders. The first, Cedar Pass Campground, is open year-round and has a stay limit of 14 days. This campground accepts reservations and typically fills up pretty quickly – especially during the summer months. It is managed by Cedar Pass Lodge, and reservations can be made online through them. The second campground, Sage Creek Campground, is open year-round but may experience road closures after harsher weather conditions. It is first-come, first-serve. Due to being in areas with high fire danger, campfires are not permitted at the campgrounds – only stoves and contained grills. Additionally, pets are allowed in the campgrounds!
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