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Visiting Badlands National Park: The Complete Guide

Planning a trip to Badlands National Park and need some help planning your trip?

Here is the National Park Obsessed guide for visiting Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Table of Contents

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The Quick Guide to Visiting Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park Basics

Region: Midwest / Central Plains

Park Size: 242,756 acres (379.31 sq miles) (982.4 sq km)

Location: Pennington, Jackson and Shannon counties and Oglala Lakota Nation (Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Closest Cities: Rapid City, South Dakota

Busy Season: June to September

Visitation: 970,998 (in 2019)

How much does Badlands National Park Cost?

Badlands National Park costs the following:

  • 7-day Passenger Vehicle Pass – $30
  • 7-day Motorcycle Pass – $25
  • 7-day Individual Pass – $7

An annual Badlands National Park Pass costs $50 but it is not recommended you buy this pass. For an extra $30 you can get an American the Beautiful Pass. This $80 pass offers free admission to all 116 fee-charging National Park Units.

When is Badlands National Park Open?

Badlands National Park is open year-round.

Are dogs allowed in Badlands National Park?

Yes, pets are welcome in Badlands National Park but are limited to developed areas such as roads, parking areas, picnic areas, and campgrounds. Pets are not allowed on trails or overlooks. Please review the Badlands Pet Policy before bringing your dog to Arches.

Where are Badlands National Park’s visitor centers?

Ben Reifel Visitor Center – Open Year Around

White River Visitor Center – Summer Only

Land Acknowledgment

The park now known as Badlands National Parks is on Cheyenne, Mnicoujou, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and Oohenumpa land.

Thank you to the Native Land Digital for making the Indigenous territories accessible to all. They have mapped the known territories to the best of the current knowledge and is a work in progress. If you have additional information on the Indigenous nations boundaries, please let them know.

Native Land Digital is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization with the goal to creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.

When was Badlands National Park Created?

Badlands National Park was created on January 29, 1939, as Badlands National Monument. Badlands was elevated to a National Park on November 10, 1978.

Fun Facts about Badlands National Park

  • The highest point in Badlands National Park is Red Shirt Table which is 3,340 feet (1,020 m) above sea level.
  • The lowest point in Badlands National Park is a runoff channel near Ben Reifel Visitor Center which is 2,365 feet (721 m) above sea level.
  • Badlands National Park is about the size of the small African Island Nation of São Tomé and Príncipe.

When to Visit Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park Weather

Badlands National Park Activity Guides

Road Trips that Include Badlands National Park

National Parks Near Badlands National Park

National Park Service units within a 4 hours drive

  • Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Devils Tower National Monument
  • Fort Laramie National Historic Site
  • Jewel Cave National Monument
  • Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
  • Missouri National Recreational River
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Niobrara National Scenic River
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument
  • Wind Cave National Park

National Park Service units within an 8 hours drive

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