Introduction to Badlands National Park in South Dakota
Badlands National Park is a short drive from The Black Hills.
When coming from the Black Hills, The Traveling Morgans recommend you approach from the
south (SD Highway 44) so you can see "the wall" that
gave Wall SD its name. You can enter the park near the Cedar Pass visitors center.
An "off the beaten path" great area to visit, if you have a high clearance vehicle (Jeep type, 2WD is fine) and it has not been raining, is Sheep Mountain Table in the undeveloped South Unit of Badlands National Park. You will have outstanding views of the Badlands.
We have been fortunate many times to see storms approaching the Badlands.
Pinnacles Overlook, looking west toward the Black Hills.
Storms come will little advance notice in the Black Hills. A fine day can be a heavy storm within a few minutes.
In the Badlands, you can see storms over the Black Hills coming toward you hours before they arrive.
Cedar Pass as seen from the visitor center near the town of Interior. This pass is one of the few ways down from and through "the wall" of the badlands.
Not far from the pass is the Door Nature Trail and Window Nature Trail. Look right.
Not far from Cedar Pass are the Door and Window Nature Trails Often referred to as the "baddest of the badlands". These can be accessed by people in wheelchairs.
The abundant wildlife in Badlands National Park is best seen on the gravel roads such as Sage Creek Rim Road. We have included pages for two gravel roads.
Old NE Road, offers a chance to see many unusual formations.
Big Butte Overlook on Sage Creek Rim Road. Since this are has fewer human visitors, more animals visit this area.
Sheep Mountain Table is in the undeveloped southern section of the park. The road up the table has not been upgraded to gravel, but is passable if there have not been heavy rains and you have a high clearance vehicle such as a jeep or pickup. 4WD is not generally required. Sheep Mountain Table is much as it was when horse drawn wagons came up the same road. This is a great place for the more adventurous. It is generally best in June.
There are several theories on the origin of the Badlands. The two most common are easily eroded volcanic ash under layers of more durable rock; and sediments washed down from the Black Hills (from when they were as high as the current Rocky Mountains and the Badlands area was a shallow sea)with the same sediments now being eroded again. The stark beauty is not debated. The Traveling Morgans have seen several "badlands" in our travels, but Badlands National Park sets the standard.