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This page last updated: Thu Nov 26, 2015

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.

A good Badlands Map is provided by BlackHillsBadlands.Com.

Badlands Storms

We have been fortunate many times to see storms approaching the Badlands.

Badland Storm over Pinnacles

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.


This particular time, we left the Badlands and drove through the storm on I-90, returning to the Black Hills. We stopped and took a quick picture at right. There was no pull off handy for us to get the full rainbow, but it was there in our mirrors.

Areas of Badlands National Park
Cedar Pass

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.

Door Nature Trail.

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.

Conata Basin Overlook

The Badlands Loop Road is the most visited part of the park. One of the many overlooks on this road is Conata Basin Overlook, which includes an overall view of the Yellow Mounds.

Badlands Prairie Dog Town

Rich Wildlife includes a Prairie Dog town.

Gravel Roads

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

Old NE Road, offers a chance to see many unusual formations.

Big Butte Overlook

Big Butte Overlook on Sage Creek Rim Road. Since this are has fewer human visitors, more animals visit this area.

Sheep Mtn Table Road

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.

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