Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park was the last park I visited on my 2018 solo road-trip. It was a very brief stop – half a day – just long enough to get a semi-decent overview of the national park. I had been to Badlands NP once before with my family in 2005, but I don’t remember much about that part of the trip. It was nice to go back and refresh my memory.

big horn sheep


sage creek rim road

Because I was coming from Wind Cave National Park, I entered the park at the Pinnacles Entrance. I had read about the Sage Creek Campground and wanted to scope it out for my next visit to Badlands NP. The campground is about 12 miles from the Pinnacles Entrance on Sage Creek Rim Road, a gravel / dirt road. I have heard that you do not want to be on that road in when it is wet – supposedly the mud in Badlands National Park swallows tires. The Sage Creek Campground is primitive: no running water and only two pit toilets. I would definitely prefer to sleep in my truck than in a tent at this campground. For one it’s located in a prairie dog colony and for another there were bison not 50 feet away from the campground. If I slept in a tent I’d be having dreams about being nibbled on by prairie dogs and stomped on by bison. Haha!

sage creek campground
sage creek campground
herd of bison near sage creek campground (I used zoom in order to get this picture)

After stopping to do more wildlife viewing I hit the main Badlands Loop Road. I stopped at the Pinnacles Overlook and the Prairie Wind Overlook. I had asked at the Entrance if the Park Ranger had any Junior Ranger books which she did. So I sat at the Prairie Wind Overlook, ate my lunch, and did my Junior Ranger book. It amuses me how comfortable I was, by the end of this trip, at making myself at home where ever I happened to be. It didn’t matter if it was a parking lot with a pretty view, a visitor center, or a bench in front of a National Park lodge, I would just plop myself down wherever, eat a meal, take a nap, draw, read, write, etc.

After finishing my Junior Ranger book, I continued along the park road in the direction of the visitor center. I stopped at a couple more overlooks and did the super short, but super interesting Fossil Exhibit Trail.

pinnacles overlook
pinnacles overlook


fossil exhibit trail
fossil exhibit trail

At the Ben Reifel Visitor Center I watched a video about the park in order to earn my Junior Ranger pin. I enjoyed talking to the Park Ranger about his time at the park. Most of the seasonal Park Rangers head home in September as peak park visitation winds down.

Although it was a very short visit, I enjoyed my time at Badlands National Park and am glad I got to scope it out to see what I want to do when I am able to spend more time in the park.