Badlands National Park

Year Established: 1978
Annual Visitors: 1.22 M
Size: 242,756 Acres
State: South Dakota

Best Time to Visit Badlands National Park

April to May, September to October

If you are planning to visit more national parks, check out our complete list of all US National Parks here.

Best Experiences in Badlands National Park

  • Notch Trail
  • Saddle Pass Trail
  • Badlands Loop Road

A Brief History

The native Lakota called the area Mako Sica, which means “bad land,” and Col. George Custer said it was “hell with the fires put out.” This part of the Great Plains looks burned and strangely empty. Buttes, spires, and mesas rise up from the surface. Their sedimentary stone has been worn away by wind and rain for hundreds of millions of years, leaving gray and orange bands that look like they were painted around the ridges.

Even though the land looks empty, many different kinds of animals live there. In the Badlands, you can find the largest area of blue grama and buffalo grass fields in the U.S. Bison and skittish prairie dogs roam the fields and hide below them. The endangered black-footed ferret lives there, too.

Only 300 black-footed ferrets are still alive, but in 2020, scientists led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cloned one using the cells of one that had died more than 30 years before. They gave her the name Elizabeth Ann, and they hope that she and other babies made in this way will add genetic diversity to the rest of the population.

Badlands RV Camping

If you are looking for nearby RV camping options for Badlands National Park or in South Dakota, consider checking out our other post:

Visitor Information


Weekly Park Passes

$30.00 per vehicle

$15.00 per Individual (Hiking, Bicycling, etc…)

$25.00 per Motorcycle

Valid for up to 7 consecutive days in the park

Annual Park Passes

Badlands National Park Annual Pass – $55.00

America The Beautiful Annual Park Pass

You can also get an annual park pass to ALL National Parks in the United States for $80.
Keep in mind they have Senior, Military, and other discounts available!

Contacting Badlands National Park

Phone Number

305 242-7700

Visitor Centers

Ben Reifel Visitor Center

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is at the park’s headquarters. It has exhibits, a theater with air conditioning, and restrooms.


25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD 57750

Phone Number

(605) 433-5361

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Monday 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Tuesday 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Wednesday 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Thursday 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Friday 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Saturday 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
White Ridge Visitor Center

The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to the visitor center, which has a staff-run information desk, exhibits, restrooms, picnic tables, and water. The only time this visitor center is open is in the summer.


Porcupine, SD 57772

Phone Number

(605) 455-2878

Hours of Operation (April through September)

  • Sunday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Monday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Tuesday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Wednesday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Thursday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Friday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Saturday 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

Be sure to check for seasonal closures.