Badlands National Park

badlands national park

Badlands National Park photo by Don Fink via Shutterstock.

Badlands National Park, located in South Dakota, is a rugged expanse known for its striking geologic formations and abundant fossil beds. The park’s intricate maze of buttes, pinnacles, and spires provide a breathtaking backdrop for hiking and wildlife viewing.

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✅ Fast Facts

State(s): South Dakota
Area: 242,756 acres (982.4 sq km) – 28th largest national park of 63
Highest Elevation: Red Shirt Table – 3,340 ft (1,020 m)
Lowest Elevation: Pinnacles Entrance – 2,260 ft (690 m)
Date Established: November 10, 1978
Annual Visitors: 916,932 visitors in 2020
Nearest Town: Wall, South Dakota

⛰ Recommended Day Hikes

Park Tracker considers a “day hike” to be a hike under 10 miles. Below we provide our top five recommendations inside the park, along with AllTrails links to the hikes.

  1. Notch Trail (1.5mi out & back)
  2. The Door Trail (0.9mi out & back)
  3. Medicine Root and Castle Loop Trail (4.0mi loop)
  4. Saddle Pass Trail (0.7mi out & back)
  5. Castle Trail to Medicine Root Loop (7.9mi loop)

🧗🏻‍♂️ Popular Activities in Badlands National Park

Acadia is about more than just hiking. See below for some of the best non-hiking activities to do in Badlands National Park.

  1. Fossil exhibition trail and fossil hunting
  2. Wildlife viewing (bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and more)
  3. Stargazing in one of the best spots in the world
  4. Photography of the unique landscape
  5. Attending ranger-led programs

🛎️ Where to Stay Near Badlands National Park

While there are ample camping and vacation rental options near most US national parks, I personally highly prefer staying at Hilton-branded properties when traveling to national parks. As such, below are the five closest Hilton properties to Acadia National Park.

  1. Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City – 77.0 mi from park
  2. Hilton Garden Inn Rapid City – 77.3 mi from park
  3. Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City – 77.0 mi from park
  4. Hampton Inn Rapid City Rushmore – 75.0 mi from park
  5. Tru by Hilton Rapid City Rushmore – 77.0 mi from park

🍔 What to Eat Near Badlands National Park

After hiking and exploring Badlands National Park, odds are high you’re going to be hungry. Here are five of the best restaurant options within and near the park.

  1. Wall Drug Store Caf̩ (American, Diner) Р7.8 mi from park
  2. Badlands Saloon and Grille (American, Bar) – 8.0 mi from park
  3. Cactus Caf̩ and Lounge (American) Р7.9 mi from park
  4. Wasta Bar and Grill (American, Bar) – 22.0 mi from park
  5. Cheyenne Crossing (American, Caf̩) Р90.0 mi from park