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Free Camping Near Badlands National Park

Established And Rv Camping In Badlands National Park

Fantastic Free RV Camping in South Dakota || Badlands National Park

If you’re looking for a camping experience with all the amenities , head to Cedar Pass Campground, where you’ll find 96 sites, including RV spots with electric hookups and cabin rentals at the nearby Cedar Pass Lodge. This year-round campground is your best bet for a full-service stay there’s an on-site restaurant, pay bathrooms and showers, drinkable water, and a gift shop that sells groceries and camping supplies.

Tent camping at Cedar Pass Campground costs $23 a night for two people and $4 a night for each additional person. Meanwhile, an RV site is $38 a night for two people and $4 a night for each additional individual. There are no water or sewer hookups, but those looking for a septic dump can find one nearby for $1. Reservations must be made in advance.

Sleepy Hollow Campground & Rv Park

Located within the city of Wall next to the world-famous Wall Drug, Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park lends easy access to the area’s top attractions. The campground also provides a plethora of comfortable overnight options. The park features a dedicated tenting area and nearly 60 pull-through sites for RVs. All overnight visitors to Sleepy Hollow share access to showers, laundry facilities, and the quiet surroundings.

In operation since 1931 and drawing millions of tourists to the area each year, the souvenir destination known as Wall Drug is a traditional roadside stop when traveling in this area. Other attractions near Sleepy Hollow Campground include the Wounded Knee Museum and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

The Pinnacles Entrance to Badlands National Park is accessible from Sleepy Hollow in less than a 10-mile drive.

Address: 118 W 4th Avenue, Wall, South Dakota

Official site:

Badlands National Park Camping Regulations

Campfires are not permitted anywhere in Badlands National Park, due to fire danger, but you can bring your own camp stove or contained charcoal grill to use at the campgrounds and picnic areas. In the backcountry, backpacking stoves are allowed.

Potable water is available to campers within Cedar Pass Campground, but those who set up shop at Sage Creek Campground or in the backcountry will need to bring their own water . Drinkable water is also available at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.

Within the park, you’ll find both paid and free camping, as well as campgrounds that require reservations and those that are first-come, first-serve. Those looking to set up camp at the more established Cedar Pass Campground or the Cedar Pass Lodge will want to reserve a spot well in advance by booking online or calling 433-5460. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are a reduced number of sites. If you’re open to sleeping at a spot without showers, running water, and flushable toilets, you can take advantage of Sage Creek Campground’s first-come, first-serve style. Plus, camping here is free. However, since campsites are limited, you might want to show up early so you can be sure to nab a spot.

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Badlands National Park Camping

To truly experience this rugged environment, just a days visit wont do. Spend a couple of nights tent or RV camping in or near the park. This article provides you with your Badlands National Park camping options. There is something for everyone here, whether at any campgrounds located within the park or outside.

Free Camping In Badlands National Park

Road Trip the World

Free camping in Badlands National Park is totally possible.

In fact, one of the parks two developed campgrounds, Sage Creek Campground is completely free! All 22 campsites are first-come, first-served so arrive early to secure a site.

That said, camping at Sage Creek still requires paying the park entrance fee of $30 per vehicle, so its technically not 100% free

For completely free camping in the Badlands area, look just outside the parks boundaries. My favorite free campsite nearby and arguably one of the best places for boondocking in the United States is just north of the northern entrance to the national park.

Part of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, this dispersed camping area doesnt have an actual name, although youll sometimes hear locals refer to it as The Wall, because its located just a few miles south of the town of Wall on the edge of a cliff overlooking the badlands.

Seriously though, camping here isnt to be missed. Its honestly one of the most beautiful camping spots Ive ever been to with incredible views of the badlands with plenty of room to spread out.

This free campsite is located just off Highway 240 near the tall cell towers in the distance. For more specific directions, the rangers at the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands Visitors Center will help point you in the right direction.

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Badlands National Park Hiking Trail #2 The Door Trail

While visiting Badlands National Park, this is a must-do hike. The initial section of this trail is on a well-kept, wheelchair-accessible walkway. The track then departs from the walkway and enters the badlands. Its indicated by a numbered yellow sign post, but youre free to go wherever you like. The end of the path area is marked with a sign. At the conclusion of the trail, there are breathtaking panoramic vistas. After you leave the walkway, the rest of the trail is mainly flat. However, it contains several steps and can lead you to bluffs.

Length: 0.9 mi

Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Walking, Partially paved, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Fee,

Support Your National Parks

Did you know you can support our National Parks by shopping at eParks, the official not-for-profit online store of Americas National Parks? eParks develops and distributes up to 100 new educational products each year. These products are unique because they are produced in collaboration with each park, creating specific experiences. Net proceeds from every sale support our National Parks.

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Badlands National Park Hiking Trail #3 Castle Trail And Medicine Root Trail Loop

Its a fantastic way to see the Badlands! I began at the eastern trailhead and walked west before returning. I had virtually the entire route to myself, which was a wonderful change of pace from other portions of the park. A few kilometers into my journey, I got really lucky with some cloud cover. Bring plenty of water for yourself, as others have suggested. I skipped Medicine Root in favor of a more intriguing out-and-back route, Castle. I got up close and personal with a huge horn ram and a herd of deer. I once heard a rattlesnake tremble at me and approached with caution. So, if youre in a place with a lot of tall grass, be extra cautious. The only criticism is that some of the markers red paint has faded and can blend into the environment. Overall, I enjoyed it!

Length: 11.0 miElevation gain: 314 ftRoute type: Loop

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Over grown, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Bear Mountain Hill Top

Badlands Camping

GPS: 43.867203, -103.753686

About The Campsite: Bear Mountain Hill Top is located within the Black Hills National Forest. This area provides great dispersed camping in a quiet meadow setting. Campers report seeing various wildlife such as deer, elk, coyotes, foxes, and pronghorn.

There are no amenities in the area. Campers will need to be self-contained and will have no access to water or electricity. To access this dispersed camping area, campers will need to navigate 12 miles of gravel roads. Theres enough space for rigs of all sizes, but it may be difficult to navigate larger rigs up the gravel road.

Reported Cell Service: A nearby Verizon tower provides great service. ATT and T-mobile have limited service.

Midwest Boondocking Vibes: 6/10. This location is rather remote, and there are reports that the gravel road can be a bit rough. Smaller rigs will likely appreciate this area more than larger setups.

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Top 10 Trails To Hike At The Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park offers numerous options for walking exploration thanks to its distinctive topography. The park has something to offer every hiker, whether they want a quick walk or a full-day outing.

Nine of our favorite hikes in Badlands National Park are listed in this blog post. Discover your next experience by reading on!

This is the place to go if youre seeking for an outdoor experience! Here are nine of the top hikes in the Badlands.

Our Experience Camping Near The Badlands

After checking out the notorious Wall Drug but before entering Badlands National Park off of the main road youll probably notice some campers to the left. From the main road, there are several dirt roads that lead to the edge of an overlook. All along the overlook there are numerous existing dispersed camp sites to choose from. These sites can accommodate everything from tents to large RVs and trailers.

And best of all, all of the sites here come with a fantastic view! From the overlook, and our front door, we were granted a beautiful view into the vast badlands and prairies below. And, to make it even better, we were able to see and sometimes hear the cows down below as well as deer and mountain goats!

There were quite a few campers along the ridge of the overlook but still, the area was clean, well taken care of and quiet. We chose a spot on the outskirts, and though we could see others, we couldnt hear them and there was enough distance to have privacy.

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The weather was great and being cliffside there was always a nice breeze. The stars were great here, the sunsets were gorgeous, and it was very peaceful! And believe it or not, there were even more perks about camping near the Badlands.

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Badlands Natioal Park Hiking Trail #8 Fossil Exhibit Trail

Beautiful informative trail with a very well boardwalk. Begin and conclude under the shade of a shaded pavilion. Along this trail, there is a lot of pretty good informational signs. You can also go outside the walkway area to look for fossils. They do provide advice on how to register one and what to do if you find one. Remember not to disturb or remove any fossils or artifacts from their natural habitats or the park. This trail is accessible by wheelchair and is suitable for children. This trail has a large parking space as well. A restroom is available at this trailhead.

Length: 0.4 miElevation gain: 9 ftRoute type: Out & back

Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Paved, Views, Wildflowers, No shade, Fee, No dogs

How Do You Backcountry Camp In The Badlands

Free Camping outside Badlands National Park, SD, at Sunset : GoRVing

Backcountry Camping There are just a few key rules to respect: No pets, no campfires, and you must venture at least a half-mile off the road to remain out of site from it. We blazed our own trail for about 3 miles toward cathedral-like spires, rounding a large formation to get out of sight from any roads.

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What To Bring On Your Badlands National Park Camping Trip

Preparing for your Badlands National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear youll need to ensure a great trip.

Were sure youll already have the essentials like a great tent, sleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in the Badlands:

  • Coleman Camping Stove This camping classic is perfect for Sage Creek Campground where fires are prohibited.
  • Pop-up canopy The sun in this part of South Dakota can get intense! You wont find much shade at either campground, so we recommend bringing a portable shade structure to create your own!
  • Portable water container Especially useful for Sage Creek, which does not have a water source, these portable water containers are a life saver.
  • Cooler The hot summer temperatures make a good cooler essential. We cant recommend Yeti enough!
  • Badlands National Park Map
  • Even better than paper maps, we like to use the Gaia GPS app on our phone. You can download maps for every National Park at a fraction of the cost. Get 20% off your Gaia subscription here.
  • Badlands Guidebook A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Badlands. We like this guide to all 62 National Parks from Moon Guides.

Badlands National Park Hiking Trail #10 Sage Creek Loop

This is a wonderful trail. We completed it in one day, starting at 9 a.m. and finishing at 6:30 p.m., maintaining a good speed and taking two 5- to 10-minute stops. There isnt much of a difference in height that isnt the problem. The topography is what made this trail tough: we hiked it in October, which was a little wet, which drenched our boots a couple of times. The other issue is mental: we were out on an overcast day, the wind was howling, it was a little chilly, and there was no one else around all we had to do was be cool and keep going.

Length: 22.8 mi

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Nature trips, Views, Wildlife, No shade, Fee, No dogs

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How To Get To The Badlands National Park

Many Badlands National Park Boondocking locations are scattered on the perimeter of the park. The park is approximately 75 miles east of Rapid City and 500 miles west of Minneapolis.

The park has two major roads I-90 goes through the parks North Unit before heading back up to I-90. Sage Creek Rim Road, also Highway 590, is a dirt or gravel road that follows the Badlands Wilderness on the parks western side. The roads meet inside the parks Pinnacles Entrance.

Where To Get Supplies

Free Camping at Badlands National Park, 2017

The best place to stock up on camping supplies before heading to Badlands National Park is Rapid City, South Dakota. Rapid City is about 1.5 hours from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and about 1.25 hours from the Sage Creek Campground. While this isnt especially close to the National Park, Rapid City has all the amenities and services youll need to prepare for a great camping trip including grocery stores, liquor stores, and outdoor stores. Here are your best options for where to stock up:

If youre looking to stock up a bit closer to the National Park your best get will be the town of Interior, South Dakota. Interior is located only about a 10-minute drive from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and has basic services such as a small grocery store and gas station.

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Badlands National Park: Boondock On The Wall Overlooking The Park

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We had read about this fantastic boondocking location near Badlands National Park in which campers are able to stay on a cliff overlooking the Badlands National Park for free.

It has been called a top five camping destination in the United States and it lived up to its reputation!

The site does not have an official name, but is sometimes called Dispersed Camping at Badlands National Park or The Wall at Badlands National Park.

This is somewhat of a misnomer because the site is actually a part of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

The image below is a picture I took of our Airstreams camp spot in this fantastic boondocking location.

The Bureau of Land Management maintains the land, as indicated by the survey marker I found near our camping location.

We had stopped in at the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands Visitor Center in Wall near Wall Drugs and the rangers said it is perfectly fine to camp at this location. They even gave us directions and showed us a map of where to go.

This is 100% boondock camping, meaning there are no amenities available, so youll need to bring whatever you need and pack out your trash when you leave.

Badlands National Park Hiking Trail #6 Medicine Root Loop Trail

This trail was joined with Saddle Pass, but we preferred Saddle Pass to this hike. Our favorite parts were the start, when we saw three big horn sheep, and the conclusion, when the trail traverses a section of the Castle Rock trail. Aside from that, it was quite hot, and most of the wildflowers had dried up by this time of year.

It would be a lot prettier trail in the spring, in my opinion. I awarded it four stars since its well-marked and maintained, you can view the distant rock formations, and encountering wildlife on a trail is always exciting!

Length: 4.5 mi

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

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Badlands National Park Boondocking Spots Bombing Range Road

You may stay two weeks at Badlands Overlook Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

Best Review:

There is boon docking that overlooks the Badlands just south of Wall on Hwy 240. It is on Buffalo Gap National Grasslands just before the fee booth into the Badlands. On your left, you will see gently rolling hills and a couple of tall cell towers in a field. There are a couple of entrances into the pasture if a gate is shut, just be sure to re-shut. Beautiful spot!!!

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