Hikes in Badlands National Park

Located in southwest South Dakota, the Badlands could not look more different than the surrounding Great Plains. The contrast between Badlands buttes and the surrounding prairie grasses make this a very dramatic national park. Early French trappers and earlier Native Americans gave this landscape similar names meaning “bad lands.” This rough terrain of eroded spires and pinnacles must have been hell for travelers in centuries past. Today, roadways make it easy to explore and enjoy the Badlands, even if you have limited time in the park.

There is a $15 entrance fee to access Badlands National Park and there are two campgrounds within the 380-square mile park. Cedar Pass Campground is the principal place to camp with 96 standard sites and four group sites. Sage Creep Primitive Campground is situated on an unpaved road in a remote area on the west side of the park and lacks amenities like potable water.

Campgrounds in Badlands National Park

Cedar Pass Campground | 96 sites | open year-round | reservations accepted | $15 per night | $28 per night with electric hook-ups. | potable water, covered picnic tables, fire grates, dump station, and flush toilets | elevation 2,400 feet

Sage Creek Primitive Campground | 15 sites | open year-round | first-come first serve | no fee | Pit toilets and covered picnic tables | no water | no campfires | elevation 2,500 feet

Trails in Badlands National Park

Door TrailDoor Trail
This one-mile hike passes through a gap in Badlands Wall to a viewing platform followed by a cross-country path into the rugged badlands.
Window TrailWindow Trail
This level 0.25-mile round trip hike leads to an opening in Badlands Wall overlooking the rugged landscape beyond.
Notch TrailNotch Trail
This adventurous 1 1/3-mile hike travels up a badlands canyon to an elevated overlook with views over the Great Plains.
Cliff Shelf Nature TrailCliff Shelf Nature Trail
This half-mile hike loops through a juniper forest on the south side of the Badlands Wall, reaching a viewpoint below the notch.

 


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Cliff Shelf Nature Trail Badlands National Park hike
Beneath the natural fortress known as Badlands Wall, Cliff Shelf Nature Trail presents easy access to South Dakota's badlands and has views across the Great Plains. This pleasant half-mile lollipop loop passes through a juniper forest elevated along the Badlands Wall, a 100-mile long ridge spanning across the park. The start of the loop is wheelchair friendly, but there... Read more.
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Distance: 0.5 miles – Elevation change: 300 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 20, 2014
Notch Trail Badlands National Park hike
This trek travels up a badlands canyon to an overlook with massive views over the Great Plains. The hike is 1.33 miles round trip with 125 feet of elevation gain. There is no boardwalk to follow on this hike, just a dirt trail and a steep wooden ladder. Notch Trail also traces a cliff's edge so it is not a good option for hikers with a fear of heights. For those... Read more.
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Distance: 1.33 miles – Elevation change: 125 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 21, 2014
Door Trail Badlands National Park hike
The door on this trail is an opening in Badlands Wall that introduces hikers to a rugged world. While nearby Window Trail allows visitors to look over the wall, Door Trail lets you walk through it. A short boardwalk takes hikers through a natural passageway to a viewing platform on the other side. Beyond that, follow a level path across the formidable landscape to... Read more.
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Distance: 1 mile – Elevation change: 50 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 20, 2014
Window Trail Badlands National Park hike South Dakota
You don't need glass to have a window. All you need is a large opening like the one found in Badlands Wall at the end of this short trail in Badlands National Park. Window Trail is a quarter mile round trip with just ten feet of elevation gain - an easy hike that is suitable for all.Three hikes begin from this trailhead, Window Trail, Door Trail, and Notch Trail.... Read more.
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Distance: 0.25 miles – Elevation change: 10 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 23, 2014