Badland Campgrounds

Badland Campgrounds - How Many Campgrounds are in Badlands?

Oct 21, 2023

The environment around Badland Campground is a place one can call serene, located on the outskirts of South Dakota's Black Hills region. While many tourists choose to drive through the park on the Badlands Loop Road, this only gives you a taste of everything the area has to offer. 

If you want to camp instead, you'll get uninterrupted views of the badlands as the appearance of the craggy eroded buttes changes with the light. Be sure to keep an eye out for bighorn sheep and prairie dogs along the road as the vista transforms to the dark skies above after dark, as the park is ideal for stargazing. 

Badland Campgrounds

For the perfect road vacation, combine your excursions in the region with trips to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, and the kitschy Wall Drug.

The National Park at Badland not be as popular as the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, but that's a good thing as there’s lesser cases of overcrowding, allowing it easier to enjoy the beauty and quiet of the park's remarkable scenery. 

Then there's the wildlife, which includes bison, bighorn sheep, and golden eagles, just to name a few. Fortunately, there are numerous possibilities, ranging from conventional campgrounds and RV hookups to difficult backcountry camping.

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An Overview of Badland Campgrounds

It's a region of South Dakota that draws visitors from all over the world, who come to drive on Badlands Loop Road, trek on the Notch Trail, or spend time examining the park's numerous fossils.

An Overview of Badland Campgrounds

The reality is that a day here is simply not enough, and because the park shows an altogether new side at night — one that includes beautiful skies and a full view of the Milky Way – sleeping under the stars seems only natural. 

Badlands National Park, like the rest of South Dakota, has hot summers and cold winters. While you can visit at any time, this park, like many others, is busiest during the summer. 

While finding a campground during peak season is not impossible, it is not usually simple as with only one reserved campground in Badlands, finding a camping spot is difficult. 

Having said that, with so much federal land surrounding it, free camping is plentiful. RV campers, on the other hand, will welcome the park's availability of sites that can accommodate them. 

If you can't find a campsite near Badlands National Park, head to Buffalo Gap National Grassland. A stop (or stay) in Wall, SD, is a must for campers and roadtrippers both.

Backcountry camping at Badlands National Park is ideal and safest in September and early October, when the summer thunderstorms have past and the temperature begins to fall.

Does Badland Have Nearby Campgrounds?

Sure! There are a few campgrounds near Badland Campgrounds to mention.

1. Sage Creek Park

Sage Creek Park

The incredible silence, the scent of sagebrush in the air, and buffalo herds that roam the park make Sage Creek Campground well worth the effort to visit. It's rudimentary in every way, with no electricity, no running water, and pit toilets.

It's ideal for tents or small campers with the nearest amenities are more than an hour away in Wall, SD, so stock up before you leave. But once you're here, you'll never want to go. 

The vast sky goes on forever, and you'll feel as if this location was created just for you, the dazzling stars, active prairie dogs, and grazing bison. Take it from us when we say it's a sliver of bliss in an overcrowded world.

2. Cedar Pass Campground

Cedar Pass Campground

Some of the most challenging locations in the United States also provide some of the most exciting activities. Badlands National Park, nicknamed "bad land" by settlers due to its barren agricultural land, comprises harsh, pink-hued buttes rising mystically from the surrounding grassland, a diversified wildlife ecology, archeological wonders, and fantastic hiking routes. 

The Cedar Pass Campground is close to the visitor center and offers easy access to trails and the loop road. The sunset over the bluffs is spectacular here, but you must arrive early (before noon) to secure a decent place.

3. Interior Badlands Motel

Interior Badlands Motel

The Badlands Interior Motel and Campground is located one mile outside of Badlands National Park's southern Interior Entrance and is a handy option to stay immediately outside the entrance gates.

Tent sites, RV pull-through parking, camping cottages, and a 22-unit motel are available at the campground. There are also permanent teepees in Badlands Interior. The restaurant, store, swimming pool, and full-service bathroom facilities are available to all Badlands Interior Motel and Campground visitors. 

While all of the Badlands Interior Motel's overnight options have a magnificent view, the tent sites are positioned on the campground's outskirts, providing more wide views of the jagged horizon in the distance. 

This campground is open seasonally, from April 1st through the second week of October. Interior, a nearby little town, has minimal services such as camping supplies and a few of eateries.

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4. Backcountry Campground

Backcountry Campground

For those seeking a full immersion in nature away from other campers, there are numerous possibilities. The Backcountry allows any location within the borders of the Badlands National Park. As long as the campsite is at least a half-mile distant and is not visible from any of the park's roads or trails. 

So, in essence, you are allowed to camp practically wherever within the park's 244,000 acres. If the sheer number of alternatives overwhelms you, keep in mind that the majority of backcountry campers visit Deer Haven, a network of game trails that crisscross a juniper grove and other attractive areas. 

The Sage Creek Wilderness Area, located along Sage Creek Rim Road, is another popular location and because bisons live in the area, simply take one of the game trails and wander until you find a site that is a half-mile off the road and out of sight.

A backcountry camping permit is not necessary, however the park encourages that you notify a staff member at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center or the Pinnacles Entrance Station of your plans. 

A topographic map is also available so you just have to bring a camping stove. This is because campfires are not allowed and it’s also advisable you get at least a gallon of water, to quench thirst when you’re out. You'll also need to pack your garbage and toilet paper

The National Park at Badlands


There are no camping areas in the Badlands so camping is only permitted in authorized campgrounds in Badlands National Park. There are two campgrounds located at Badlands: Cedar Pass and Sage Creek Campground.

Running water and flush toilets are available in Cedar Pass Campground, whereas pit toilets are available at Sage Creek Campground. There are various private campgrounds and ranches in the nearby area where you can camp outside of the national park. 

Hipcamp's Badlands camping page has a variety of options, including tent sites, RV sites, and cottages. When camping in the Badlands, always remember to leave no trace principles and to preserve the delicate environment.

Is there a Cost for Camping at Badlands?

Is there a Cost for Camping at Badlands?

Yes. There are two campgrounds in Badlands National Park: Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Campground.

The charge for a conventional campground at Cedar Pass Campground is $22 per night, and the fee for a campsite with electrical hookups is $37 per night. Sage Creek Campground is a free primitive, first-come, first-served campground. 

Please keep in mind that the amenities at Sage Creek Campground are minimal, with only pit toilets and no running water. Private campsites near the Badlands can also be found on Hipcamp, with rates varying depending on amenities and location.

While there are no free campsites in Badlands National Park, free dispersed camping is available in nearby Buffalo Gap National Grassland. 

The park is surrounded by grassland, which provides rustic, undeveloped camping areas. Remember that some areas have no facilities, so come prepared and respect the ‘Leave No Trace’ guidelines.

Does Camping at Badlands Come with Rules and Regulations?

Certainly! Badlands National Park will transition to a cashless admission system in 2023, which means that entry fees will only be accepted via mobile or electronic payments. Entry passes can also be purchased ahead of time at 

Due to the risk of fire, campfires are not permitted anywhere in Badlands National Park, but you may bring your own camp stove or controlled charcoal grill to use at the campgrounds and picnic areas. Backpacking stoves are permitted in the backcountry.

Potable water is available at Cedar Pass Campground, but campers in Sage Creek Campground or in the wilderness must bring their own (one gallon per person per day is advised).

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center also has drinking water due to the high silt concentration, so visitors are strongly advised not to drink any water discovered in the park.

Some Tips to Note When Camping at Badlands

There are both paid and free camping areas within the park, as well as campgrounds that require reservations and those that are first-come, first-served. 

1. Anyone planning to camp at the renovated Cedar Pass Campground or the Pass Lodge should book well in advance, either online or by phoning (605) 433-5460. 

2. If you don't mind staying in a place without showers, running water, or flushable toilets, Sage Creek Campground's first-come, first-serve policy is for you. Camping is free here, but spots are limited, so get there early.

3. The weather in Badlands National Park may be quite unpredictable. Summers are frequently hot and dry, with thunderstorms on occasion, while the park regularly receives 12 to 24 inches of snow throughout the winter months.

Summers can be scorching, with temperatures reaching 116 degrees Fahrenheit, while winters can be freezing. 

Camping is excellent during the latter time of the summer and then an early fall when the park is free and not strict. Keep in mind that June is typically the wettest month.

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Fun Activities to Engage in at Badlands Campgrounds

Fun Activities to Engage in at Badlands Campgrounds

Summer time is the most convenient hour to visit Badlands, though temperatures can reach well over 100° F during the day, and there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained and entertained during your trip. 

1. Scenic Drives: Several scenic drives, such as Rim Road, Badlands Loop Road, as well as the South Unit are routes to lead you through many of the park's most magnificent locations, all from the comfort of your own vehicle!

2. Hiking: With miles of hiking paths, hiking is the ideal Badlands camping activity. There's plenty of hiking for hikers of all skill and fitness levels, from small boardwalk walks (like the 0.75-mile roundtrip Door Trail) to strenuous day treks (like the 10-mile roundtrip Castle Trail). Even dogs are permitted on the park's backcountry roads!

3. Backpacking: Go on an overnight adventure through the Badlands backcountry. Backpacking possibilities abound, allowing you to get up close and personal with some of the park's most breathtaking panoramas.

4. Wildlife Observation: Creatures like the sheep, bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, coyotes and the prairie dogs are sights you might meet visiting Badlands National Park.

5. Stargazing: Because of the distant position, the night sky is incredibly spectacular. Gaze at the heavens wherever you are, or attend a midnight astronomy session at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater, which is available nightly during the peak season, to peer through a powerful telescope.

6. Fossil Hunting: Fossils are abundant in the Badlands. Try your luck right after a rainstorm, as the fossils will stand out more. Alternatively, rather of going fossil hunting, visit the Fossil Preparation Lab to see paleontologists at action!

7. Bicycling: Bicycling, both on paved and dirt roads, is an intriguing way to take in the landscape of the Badlands.

8. Riding a Horse: Horseback riders rejoice! Horseback riding is permitted at Badlands National Park, but no commercial excursions are available. Try an overnight adventure in the woods or at Sage Creek Campground, where equestrians have access to a part of the campsites.

10. Ranger Programs: During the summer months, a variety of ranger programs are available, including the always popular Junior Ranger Program.

With fewer crowds and more tolerable temperatures, fall and spring are the best times to visit. The park is also open in the winter, but in bitter cold.

Most people think that three nights in Badlands is the ideal length of time to visit because it offers you two full days to explore. Having said that, many of the more amazing aspects may be seen in a single day, while others might keep you amused for a week or more.

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