There is no public transportation access to Badlands National Park, so reaching it means driving, biking, riding or walking in. The park is located just south of Interstate 90 in southeastern South Dakota. Those traveling east on I-90 should use Exit 110, and those traveling west should use Exit 131.
Badlands National Park
25216 Ben Reifel Road
P.O. Box 6
Interior, South Dakota 57750
Telephone: (605) 433-5361
The park is open all year, 24 hours per day. There is an automat for issuing permits and passes to campers and visitors who arrive after the Visitors Center closes. The passes are good for seven days. The park covers 244,000 acres, with the terrain being a mix of desolate buttes and prairie grasslands. The park has many hiking trails, and during the summer, nature programs are offered.
Rules and Regulations
The Badlands are famed for their fossils, and to protect the fossils and wilderness, fossil collection is banned. Pets are to be leashed inside the park. Trifling with the plant and animal life of the park is prohibited, and bothering the snakes is particularly discouraged. If a snake is encountered in a usually populated area such as a campground, visitors are not to harm the snake; they are supposed to contact a park ranger. Because of the dry grasses, fires outside of designated areas and fireworks are banned. Campers are forbidden to use campground sinks for laundry, and clotheslines should be taken in by nightfall.
The area is known for its heat and sun during the summer. Campers and hikers should plan on consuming one gallon of water per day, and bring sunblock and a good sun hat. Visitors should be aware the region is well-known for its sudden changes in weather, with violent thunderstorms developing regularly and suddenly.
Badlands National Park has three camping options. First is Cedar Pass Campground, which is located adjacent to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. This campground has nearly 100 sites, and facilities of cold running water and toilets. Located nearby are group campsites that offer a little more privacy. Reserving the group campsites in advance is usually necessary because there are not many of them. The second campground is Sage Creek. The facilities are primitive, with pit toilets and no running water. Finally, backcountry camping is allowed within half a mile of any road or trail. Registration for this is encouraged, but strictly speaking, a permit is not required. Sage Creek and the backcountry camping are free. Excepting the group campsites at Cedar Pass, no reservations are required for camping, and sites are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a maximum stay of two weeks and a maximum occupancy of six people and two cars/trucks per campsite.