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12 Greatest Issues to Do in Badlands Nationwide Park, United States – Hand Baggage Solely

East of the Black Forest and about a 4-hour drive from Sioux Falls, Badlands National Park is an epic place in North America. It’s the kind of place to stay for weeks exploring with a ton of the best Badlands National Park activities scattered all over the area. You will love it!

I first experienced the beauty of Badlands during my road trip (between New York City and Los Angeles). Badlands National Park, which was traveling the northern states, was one of my favorite spots – and Yellowstone, to be honest.

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From walking the trails, spotting bison and seeing the best sunsets; It is a completely unique national park. To be honest, it was so different from what I expected a northern national park to be – in a good way, of course. Much drier and more desert-like in the dry months, it’s a landscape I’ll never forget.

To help you get the most out of your trip, I wanted to share my favorite places that you really cannot miss when visiting Badlands National Park.

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Check out the best things to do in Badlands National Park below.

1.) Drive the Badlands National Park Loop Road

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The circular road is probably the best route to drive through the park. It covers an expansive route that spans well over 30 miles. Now, while the journey may only be 60 minutes, once you realize how many stops to make, I am almost certain that it will take you longer.

I think it took me about 7 hours total.

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Well paved and easy to follow, driving the ring road is one of the best things to do in Badlands National Park if you want to cover a lot of ground.

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As you walk between the Pinnacles entrance to the north and the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, you’ll have ample opportunity to stop at trailheads, lookouts, and overlooks along the way.

Make sure to stop at Pinnacles Overlook for incredible views, head to Bigfoot Pass Overlook and join us for a packed lunch or explore Burns Basin Overlook. All are so beautiful.

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If you come across wildlife, you should always keep a safe distance and a minimum distance of 30 meters between you and the animal. Nobody likes a carefree explorer!

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2.) Hop on the Notch Trail

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The Notch Trail is probably one of the best things to do in Badlands National Park if you want to go hiking. It’s roughly 3 to 4 miles long and absolutely breathtaking.

Not only that, the area around the trail is beautiful for sunset lovers too. The entire White River Valley is bathed in shades of orange.

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Watch out for rattlesnakes in the area. Here I saw her sunbathing in the late afternoon!

3.) Explore the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

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Speaking of hiking trails near the visitor center, the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail is a breeze and a beautiful and easy route for the whole family. Alternatively, you can visit the Saddle Pass Trail which is beautiful.

Around 800 m round trip, it offers a breathtaking view of Badlands National Park without a tedious hiking route. Plus, the lookouts are breathtaking!

4.) Follow the Fossil Exhibit Trail

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The Fossil Exhibit Trail is a fully accessible boardwalk trail that displays fossil replicas and exhibits of now-extinct creatures that once lived in Badlands National Park.

It is absolutely interesting to hike along the promenade and to see incredible what animals called this area home many millions of years ago. One for the whole family!

5.) Stay at Cedar Pass Lodge

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Would you like to stay in Badlands National Park for a few days? Then check in at Cedar Pass Lodge or Cedar Pass Campground if you prefer.

Now the big win for me (with the cabins) is the air conditioning and the comfortable bed. I actually camped across the US on my road trip, but after a long day of exploring, I definitely missed a comfortable bed.

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6.) Hike the doorway

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One of the things I love most about Badlands National Park is the number of easy trails! The Door Trail is one of them. You can see the door path is clearly defined and easy to hike / walk in in around 25 minutes.

However, there is very little shade on the route. So take a good sun protection factor and take some water with you.

7.) Visit the Ben Reifel visitor center

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It might sound strange to say, “Visit a visitor center”, but listen to me!

You see, settling here is one of the best things to do in Badlands National Park for the local trailheads. For example, you can easily join the Saddle Pass Trail or the Cliff Shelf Trail, which are absolutely delightful.

However, as with all hiking trails, you should hike carefully. You see, on my hike, I slipped down a ledge (about 20 feet) due to a misplaced step on uneven terrain. A few scratches and an injured ego later, I wished I’d taken a little more care on the trails. They can look relatively simple, but always proceed with caution.

After all, the rangers here also know their way around the visitor center! If you are unsure of a route, need advice, or are unsure where to go, this lot will help you. You were so helpful when I visited.

8.) Find prairie dogs in Roberts Prairie Dog Town

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Roberts Prairie Dog Town is not far from the Sage Creek Basin Overlook and is quite a fun place for eagle-eyed visitors! You see, the whole area here is filled with the cutest prairie dogs that are right on the western edge of the park.

From here you can even spot buffalo on the horizon!

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9.) See Hay Butte Overlook (Sagecreek Rim Road)

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About a 20-minute drive from Yellow Mounds Overlook, Hay Butte Overlook and its surrounding area is a great little stop before heading out on the nearby hiking trails. From here, you can even spot the roaming bison that makes Badlands National Park so special.

10.) Explore Homestead Overlook

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You’ve probably guessed by now that I love my lookouts in Badlands National Park, right?

Well, Homestead Overlook is another gem to see! From here you can see the colorful ridges of the badlands and prairie which I totally loved. The colors of the rock are great and beautiful to enjoy and photograph. Trust me, you really don’t have to be a geologist to enjoy this place.

11.) Find the Badlands Wall

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Probably one of the largest ridges in the whole park. Seeing the Badlands Wall is an incredible and pretty colossal ridge to be missed! This is one of the best things to do in Badlands National Park while riding the Loop Road.

It’s so epic to see this 100 mile ridge stretch for millions of years. It’s just so special!

12.) See colored rocks overlooked by yellow hills

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If you love the scenery as much as I do in Badlands, then you must visit Yellow Mounds Overlook. From here you can see the colorful part of the Badlands geology that makes this place so special.

For the non-geologists among us, the yellow hills are ancient fossil soils (called paleosols) that are weathered from the layers above and are absolutely unique.

Oh, and if you want similar views, keep going on Highway 240 to visit Conata Basin Overlook. In truth, you can even go there from Yellow Mounds.

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