Venture into the Wild: A Guide to Badlands National Park Camping

Nestled in South Dakota, this wilderness wonderland offers adventurous souls a chance to escape the bustle of city life and immerse themselves in the raw beauty of nature. Among its many attractions, camping in Badlands National Park promises an unforgettable experience filled with starlit skies, dramatic rock formations, and encounters with wildlife. Join us as we journey through this mesmerizing terrain and discover the joys of camping amidst the Badlands.

We have camped at many National Parks across the country. Above all, Badlands National Park camping is one of the most unforgettable. Badlands National Park camping offers fantastic views, rock climbing opportunities, and unique wildlife. It also provides jaw-dropping views of towering rock formations, colorful spires, and the grassland prairies.

We recommend camping for a night or two to appreciate and experience Badlands National Park truly. This will allow you time to experience what the park offers and relax under the incredible night sky. 

Badlands National Park Camping

About Badlands National Park 

  • Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota. 
  • January 25, 1939, established as a National Monument by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 
  • 1963 a number of bison from Theodore Roosevelt National Park were released into the Badlands, and the number is now 1,000. 
  • November 10, 1978, Redesignated a National Park
  • The park protects 242,756 acres of eroded buttes and pinnacles, along with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States.
  • Approximately 1 Million people visit per year.
  • The  Lakota people of the area called this area mako sica, which literally translates to “badlands.”


Getting to the Badlands National Park

Traveling to Badlands is fairly simple. 

Interstate 90 is located directly north of the park and provides easy access to Hwy 240 aka the Badlands Loop Road.

 For those traveling west on I-90, take Exit 131 and follow the signs directing vehicles south approximately three miles to the Northeast Entrance.

For those traveling east on I-90, take Exit 110 at Wall, South Dakota. Follow signs directing vehicles south approximately seven miles to the Pinnacles Entrance.

Use the map below to find the areas we visited, and describe them. Click on the menu in the upper left corner to see each location. Click on the star to add it to your maps.

Cost to Visit 

  • Fees allow entry for seven days 
  • Private Vehicle 1-7 passengers – $30.00
  • Individual (Hiking, Bicycling, etc…) – $15.00
  • Motorcycle – $25.00 
  • Badlands National Park Annual Pass – $50.00
  • America the Beautiful National Park Pass Members get in free.

Cedar Pass Campground

Our RV | Badlands National Park
Our RV | Badlands National Park

Cedar Pass Campground is inside of the park and operated by the National Park Service. Although it does accommodate RVs, it does not offer full hook-up service. The RV sites provide electric service but no water or septic hookups. 

Cedar Pass does offer easy access to the park’s many features. We were able to leave our RV at the site, and still enjoy most the park had to offer. From every campsite at the Cedar Pass, the Badlands buttes and spires are on full display. 

Cedar Pass Campground features pay showers, flushing toilets, shaded picnic tables, and potable water. The Cedar Pass Lodge and Restaurant welcomes all visitors within walking distance of the campground and can provide a hot meal and extra camping supplies.

While the campground offers basic amenities such as restrooms and running water, it’s worth noting that it may lack some of the amenities found in larger campgrounds or RV parks. However, this is often seen as part of the appeal for those seeking a more rustic camping experience.

Many reviewers praise the stunning views of the Badlands from the campground. Being situated right within the park allows campers to enjoy the beauty of the landscape both during the day and at night.

Hiking & Rock Climbing | Kids Will Love It

Marcus Climbing the Badlands
Marcus Climbing the Badlands

We spent our time at Badlands hiking and climbing the rock structures. Badlands National Park has an open hike policy. Although there are numerous marked trails, you can hike wherever it is safe. This includes the rock formations and buttes. There is no restriction on where you can climb. 

Hiking in Badlands National Park offers an incredible opportunity to explore the unique landscape of rugged terrain, dramatic rock formations, and diverse wildlife.

Before embarking on any hike, check weather conditions, carry plenty of water, wear appropriate footwear, and let someone know your hiking plans. Additionally, be aware of wildlife, stay on designated trails, and practice Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the park’s natural beauty.

The Junior Ranger Program

If you are visiting Badlands with children we highly recommend the Junior Ranger program. You can learn more about this NPS program on our Junior Ranger Program post. To become a Junior Ranger you will need to grab an activity book at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. This visitor center is a 5-minute walk from the Cedar Pass campground. 

The Junior Ranger Program is an educational initiative offered by many national parks, including Badlands National Park. It’s designed to engage children and families in learning about the park’s natural and cultural resources while fostering a sense of stewardship for these special places.

Don’t Miss the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site | Right Next Door

If you are planning to visit Badlands NP we recommend stopping in at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. The Minuteman Missile visitor center is only eight miles away from the Cedar Pass campground. 

Minuteman Missile contains three different sites that you can visit. In addition to the visitor center, you can visit one of the launch tubes with an inactive missile in it. The third site is the underground launch facility for the minuteman missiles. 

You will need to book a reservation to tour the launch facility ahead of time. We highly recommend visiting this site. It’s an amazing first-hand look into the cold war and the missiles that keep the U.S. safe. 

Our Amazing Badlands NP Experience

Our stay at Badlands NP was one of the most memorable stops in all our travels. We had never heard of the Badlands when we first started west from Massachusetts for Yellowstone NP. As we drove along I90 in South Dakota, our expectations were not high for what we would find at Badlands NP. 

Our time there was ultimately filled with amazing adventures and memories we will never forget. We climbed rock structures as high as possible. We witnessed a fantastic night sky filled with stars. For the first time, and hopefully the last, we encountered a rattlesnake while hiking. 

Although the Badlands looks like a barren land and is not easy to get to, it is high on our list of recommendations. For our small family, it was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime camping trip. 

Camping in Badlands National Park is more than just a getaway—it’s a chance to disconnect from the distractions of modern life and rediscover the wonders of the natural world. From towering rock formations to sweeping prairie vistas, the Badlands offer a wilderness experience like no other. So pack your bags, pitch your tent, and prepare for an adventure you’ll never forget in the wild heart of South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.

We love to hear from our followers. Be sure to leave a comment below. 

Have you ever visited the Badlands National Park? If so, what was your favorite part? Is there more you would like to know about this amazing Park? 

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About Us

We are a  family of four who travels all around the country in a small RV.

So far we have RV camped in 33 different States, visited 14 National Parks, and 17 National Park Sites. 

Being self-proclaimed National Park Geeks we are on a mission to see as many as possible!  

We hope our blog will inspire other families to spend time together, and create lifelong memories. 

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