How to Camp in the Badlands National Park

How to Camp in the Badlands National ParkBadlands National Park combines the grasslands of the prairie with an arid wasteland of rocky outcroppings and gravel. It poses one of the more exotic and challenging sets of terrain and climate to the outdoors enthusiast. The majesty of the Badlands' vast landscape makes a camping trip there very worthwhile, but there are some important planning steps to keep in mind.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Water Bottles
  • Water Purification Equipment
  • Light, Loose Clothing and Sun Hat
  • Sunblock
  • Closed-toe Shoes or Sandals
  • Rain Poncho, Backpack Cover and Tent Fly
  • Portable Grill or Stove
Step 1
Pay the admission fee. In 2009, the fee was $15 per non-commercial vehicle for a seven-day pass.
Step 2
Choose between frontcountry and backcountry options. The two frontcountry options are Cedar Pass and Sage Creek Campgrounds. Cedar Pass has cold running water, flush toilets and a dump station. Sage Creek has only pit toilets and is therefore only a hair less primitive than backcountry camping. In 2009, the fees for either campground were $10 per night.
Step 3
Register with a park ranger to backcountry camp. No permit is required, so hike to a spot that is not more than a half-mile from a road or trail and set camp.
Step 4
Limit your stay to 14 consecutive days or less. This is the maximum allowed for any form of camping in the park.
Step 5
Plan on drinking at least one gallon of water per day. The weather in the park is hot and dry; temperatures can easily surge above 100 degrees F. Also, the Badlands are quite arid, and those camping away from an established, year-around water source should plan accordingly and bring purification equipment as well as plenty of bottles.
Step 6
Wear light, loose clothing and a good sun hat to protect yourself from sunburn while outdoors. Bringing strong sunblock is a good idea as well. Also, as sudden rainstorms are not uncommon in the Badlands, a good set of lightweight rain gear (poncho, backpack cover, rain fly for the tent) is in order.
Step 7
Use closed-toe sandals or shoes while hiking around in the park. There are plenty of biting insects, reptiles, spiny plants and loose gravel around that will injure your feet.
Step 8
Bring a charcoal grill or camp stove. Open fires of any kind are banned due to the risk of starting a brush fire, and even the frontcountry sites lack permanent grills for use.

Tips & Warnings

The Badlands are a remote area, so don't count on getting cell phone reception while there.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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