Badlands National Park

Scenic Driving

There is much to do in the Badlands. When you drive the Badlands Loop Road, you will find scenic overlooks and signs explaining some of what you see. Bring your binoculars! If you are lucky, you may spy bison or pronghorn grazing, spot a coyote stalking rodents, or perhaps catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep delicately picking their way across a steep slope.

A visit to Roberts Prairie Dog Town, five miles west of the Pinnacles Entrance on the unpaved Sage Creek Rim Road, gives you a chance to visit a different "home town." You may walk a nature trail, set off cross-country with a backpack, or attend an amphitheater program on a summer evening.

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center and park headquarters are open year-round (facilities include information desk, exhibits, bookstore, and restrooms). The Cedar Pass Lodge is adjacent to the visitor center and is open during the spring, summer, and fall months. The amphitheater and the Cedar Pass campground are also within walking distance.

Within five miles of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center are several trailheads, scenic overlooks, and three self-guiding nature trails. The Fossil Exhibit Trail is wheelchair accessible. The Cliff Shelf Nature Trail and the Door Trail are moderately strenuous explorations of the Badlands rock formations. A pamphlet for the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail provides a lively introduction to the wild plants and animals living among the Badlands rock formations.

The park is open all year. Popular seasons are summer, spring, and fall, but picturesque Badlands formations brushed with January snow can make a winter trek well worth the effort. Snow is usually light, though blowing snow may block roads temporarily. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center at Cedar Pass and the White River Visitor Center, in the Stronghold Unit, will help you become acquainted with the area. White River Visitor Center, open only in the summer, features Indian cultural exhibits and a videotape program on Oglala Lakota history. Before using unpaved roads or trails in the Stronghold Unit inquire about local conditions.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 17 Apr 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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