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Badlands National Park Map

by Aakash singh

The following content on Badlands National Park is licenced from National Geographic's Guide to National Parks of the United States (9th Edition).

THERE COMES A MOMENT when vast rolling grassland drops away to a fantastic landscape of pyramids, pillars, bluffs, knife-edge ridges, and narrow canyons. The star in these formations: water. It’s been carving away at the cliffs for the past half million years or so. Badlands National Park is a place of great theatricality, an enormous stage set—colorful, dramatic, and not quite real. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright referred to it as “an endless supernatural world.”

Established November 10, 1978
244,300 Acres
Badlands National Park

For those traveling it on foot, horseback, or in a covered wagon, this rugged terrain was certainly a bad land; for modern visitors, it’s nothing short of wondrous.

Today’s scenery began forming when streams (especially the White River to the south) started cutting buff, yellow, pink, and brown. After a rain, the land displays a seemingly infinite spectrum of subtle tones.

The park’s formations comprise a section of a geologic feature called the Wall. This 100-mile-long natural barrier ridges the landscape, dividing western South Dakota’s upper and lower grassland regions. The soft rock erodes easily, at the rate of about an inch a year, which means that in another 500,000 years all this craggy country could be a flat plain.

More than half the park is grassland, where bison and pronghorn graze; bighorn sheep clamber about the steep slopes. More than 200 species of birds have been recorded in the park, and when rainfall has been sufficient, the prairie wildflower display is as colorful as it is varied. A drive-through park? Badlands can, and should, be so much more.

How to Visit

Indeed, it’s all too easy to exit Interstate 90, drive the 39-mile loop road while stopping for photos, and be back on the freeway in a couple of hours. It’s much more rewarding to spend an entire day or two exploring the park: walking among the bizarre formations, driving the Sage Creek Rim Road, taking in a ranger-led program, and learning about the trove of fossils found here, from ancient alligators to the ancestors of today’s dog.

Eastbound travelers on I-90 in a hurry can enter the park at the Pinnacles Entrance, drive the scenic road, and rejoin I-90 north of the Northeast Entrance, where westbound drivers enter. You’ll be better prepared to enjoy the park, though, if you use the latter entrance. You can stop at the informative Ben Reifel Visitor Center to get advice from a ranger and to view exhibits on geology, fossils, and natural history.

While driving the Badlands Loop Road you should, at a minimum, walk the 0.75-mile Door Trail or the 0.25-mile Fossil Exhibit Trail. Where the loop road turns north to exit the park, continue on unpaved Sage Creek Rim Road for the best chance to see bison, pronghorn, and other wildlife.

Useful Information

How to get there

From Rapid City, SD (about 75 miles west), take I-90 east to Wall, then continue south on S. Dak. 240.

When to go

Summer sees the park’s highest visitation—and often very hot weather. Spring and fall offer more moderate temperatures. Winter can be beautiful in the park, but watch the forecast for occasional snowstorms.

Visitor Centers

Ben Reifel Visitor Center, on S. Dak. 240, 8 miles south of I-90, is open year-round. White River Visitor Center, on S. Dak. 27, is about 20 miles south of the town of Scenic on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is open summer only.


25216 Ben Reifel Road Interior, SD 57750 605-433-5361


Cedar Pass Campground (96 sites) is open year-round; for information on this privately managed site, contact Cedar Pass Lodge (see below). The less developed Sage Creek Campground, also open year-round, offers open camping. There is no water available. Both campgrounds are first come, first served. No permit is required for backcountry camping, although campers are encouraged to contact a ranger before a trip. Backpackers may camp anywhere in the park that is at least one-half mile from any road or trail and not visible from park roads.


Lodging is available in the park at concessioner-operated Cedar Pass Lodge (; 877-386- 4383) and in the nearby town of Wall (, adjacent to the park.

About the Guide

 National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States 9th Edition
Bask in the spectacular beauty, thrilling terrain, and quiet peacefulness of the country’s finest state parks, hand- picked by park directors and National Geographic editors. This fully updated fifth edition includes 750 additional off- the-beaten track destinations. Beautifully written descriptions tell the stories of the parks, from their wildlife, natural features, and history to their most popular current activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, water sports, and rock climbing. Vivid images inspire your next getaway, while detailed information–including 32 detailed maps highlighting sites, trails, campgrounds, and more– helps you plan your next excursion. From free to low-cost, from Florida to Alaska, from the six-acre lao Valley to the 204,000-acre Baxter, use this essential guide to plan a day visit or a weekend escape.
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