Vacation in Badlands National Park

Vacation in Badlands National ParkBadlands National Park is located in South Dakota. The park covers 64,144 wilderness acres. The Red Shirt Table is the park's highest point at 3,340 feet. Badlands officially became a national park on November 10, 1978.


Badlands lies in "Tornado Alley." Temperatures in the winter are cold (in the teens) and summers are hot (near 100° Fahrenheit). The area has experienced twisters and gets at least double the snow and rain of other parts of South Dakota.



There are three bike loops through the park, with partial pavement and partially non-paved sections on each trail. The Northeast Big Foot Loop has 11 paved miles on the 27-mile bike route. Nine miles of the 17-mile Northeast Loop are paved. The 23-mile Sage Creek Loop has 12 miles paved.

Fossil Hunt

Look for signs of the paleologu (ancient rabbit) or metamynodon (a rhino) while you search for fossils and explore the geology of the Badlands area. Take a walk on the Fossil Exhibit Trail, off Loop Road, to learn even more.


The trails in the Badlands are family friendly. Most are rated "easy," with little elevation gain and are short in distance. Check out the Castle Trail or the more challenging Saddle Pass.

Ranger Guided Program

Participate in a Ranger Guided Program during the summer months in Badlands. Kids ages seven through 12 can become Junior Rangers, while adults may enjoy a geology hike or fossil talk. The Night Sky program is one of the most popular.

Where to Stay

There are opportunities for tent and RV camping year round in Badlands. There are also cabins and hotel rooms available.

Article Written By Courtney Johnson

Courtney Johnson is a freelance sports writer and photographer based in California. Her articles and photos appear regularly in newspapers and magazines such as "Triathlete" and "Cross Country Skier." Johnson graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in media production and minor in writing. She is studying for her copy editing certificate at the University of San Diego.

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