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What to Expect from a Trip to Badlands National Park

This post sharing what to expect from a trip to Badlands National Park is brought to you through a sponsored partnership with Best Western Hotels & Resorts. While I received a complimentary stay in exchange for a feature, all opinions are my own. 

Badlands National Park

If you are planning a trip to South Dakota or simply passing through on your way somewhere else, you owe it to yourself to make a stop at Badlands National Park. This is by far one of the most underrated parks I have visited and is now at the top of my list of favorite family travel memories.

Badlands National Park

As soon as we entered the Badlands National Park, we were greeted by wildlife and it only got more interesting as we traveled through the almost 40-mile loop that brings you through the park. There is so much to see from unique wildlife and rock formations to a night sky with zero light pollution.

Badlands National Park

The park offers many photo opportunities and one of a kind experiences for the whole family from the time you enter until the time you leave the park.

Badlands National Park

Whether you want to take a scenic drive through the Badlands and stay in the comfort of your vehicle or explore the many hiking trails, taking in the sights on foot, this post will help you get an idea of What to Expect from a Trip to Badlands National Park. 

Badlands National Park

Watch Wildlife 

If you enjoy observing wildlife in a unique way, there isn’t a better place than Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park

Offering a variety of animal sightings regularly, the Badlands National Park is a great place to get up close with animals like Bison, Prarie Dogs, Coyotes, Pronghorn, Rattlesnakes, Big Horn Sheep, Deer, and more.

Badlands National Park

We especially enjoyed getting an up-close encounter with a deer at sunset.

Badlands National Park

Another highlight was seeing prairie dogs for the first time and getting a peek at their natural habitat.

Badlands National Park

No wonder the locals see them as a nuisance, they sure can dig a hole! It was quite exciting to see such a large variety of animals throughout the entire park, there certainly was no shortage of wildlife sightings the evening we visited.

Badlands National Park

We were lucky enough to get up close with Bison as soon as we entered the park but you can usually count on a sighting in other locations like the Sage Creek Area.

Badlands National Park

This area is the largest example of mixed-prairie wildland left in the U.S.

Badlands National Park

Hit the Trails

Badlands National Park boasts many trails perfect for taking in the sights. All of the trails vary in the distance as well as elevation.

Badlands National Park

For a quick walk, you can stay on a smaller trail like the Fossil Exhibit Trail or if you are looking for more of a challenge you can take a ten-mile round trip hike on Castle Trail.

Badlands National Park

If you plan your day right, you can hit up all 7 of the trails and take in the park while getting some exercise at the same time. Each trail offers a unique view of the formations and wildlife.

Badlands National Park

Visit the Ben Reifel Visitor Center

Learn about the history of the Badlands through colorful photos and life-size models that illustrate both the geology as well as the paleontology of the area. Dig deeper to uncover information on the fossil beds as well as learn about the prehistoric bones that are still being discovered at the Badlands. Since the area was much wetter than it is today, it is said to have supported animals like saber-toothed cats, miniature camels, horses, and even large beasts that resemble rhinos called titanotheres.

Where to Stay

When planning a trip to Badlands National Park the best place to stay is the Best Western Plains Motel in Wall, South Dakota.

Badlands National Park

It offers a comfortable room with rustic decor and everything you will need at your home away from home while located very close to the park as well as a handful of other attractions in the area.

Badlands National Park

The staff is more than happy to help you find attractions you would like to visit in the area on the map as well as recommend a place to dine in the evening.

Badlands National Park

This location offers both an indoor pool with a hot tub as well as an outdoor pool surrounded by lounge chairs. No matter the weather during your stay, you can relax poolside and enjoy a swim after checking out the area.

Badlands National Park

The Best Western Plains Motel is within walking distance of a number of restaurants as well as the famous tourist trap, Wall Drug.

Badlands National Park

You can count on a delicious free breakfast in the morning and full access to the fitness center during your stay as well. Another perk of staying at Best Western Plains Hotel is staying at a pet-friendly hotel.

Badlands National Park

You can bring up to two dogs per room with an 80-pound weight limit. Additional pet types (cats, birds, etc) may be accepted at the hotel’s discretion. Be sure to check with the location before making your reservation for all details regarding their pet policy.

Badlands National Park

Cost, Hours, and When to Visit Badlands National Park 

You may be wondering what the cost is to enter the Badlands National Park and I am right there with you, it turns out that this is one of the great mysteries of our time. It could cost anywhere from $15-25 to visit Badlands National Park for a non-commercial vehicle and the pass is valid for one week.

The website states that it costs $25 while the phone message says $20 and a sign in the window when pulling into the park claims $15 is the charge.

It’s also possible that it’s free to enter the Badlands according to a rep, if there is nobody there to collect money, there is no charge despite the signs warning you against driving through without paying. Apparently, that is exactly what is expected of you.

Badlands National Park

To tell you the absolute truth, it doesn’t really matter what they charge, a visit here is well worth any of the three pricing options that you may be expected to pay. The Badlands National Park should be on everyone’s bucket list and is sure to be a cherished memory for your family like it now is for mine.

Badlands National Park

The park is open all year although some areas may be closed during inclement weather so be sure to check into that before planning your trip.

Badlands National Park

We found that heading out late Spring in the evening just before sunset will give you the best chance at seeing wildlife when visiting Badlands National Park.

Jessica

Saturday 6th of July 2019

It's been so long since I've been out there! It is truly gorgeous. I want to visit again soon and it sounds like The Best Western is the place to stay while we're there. Loving these pics!

Anosa

Friday 5th of July 2019

Badlands national park looks absolutely gorgeous, definitely would love to visit one day. I love that Best Western is nearby

Jackline A

Thursday 4th of July 2019

Never heard of Badlands national Park but it looks gorgeous and looks like there is a lot to do.

Lasonia

Wednesday 3rd of July 2019

Looks as if you guys had an awesome time. Your photos are amazing, and the hotel looks like a great place to stay.

Ginger

Wednesday 3rd of July 2019

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these posts about places to travel. I remember so vaguely visiting the place when I was young. I am adding it to my bucket list to go back and show my children all these years later. Thanks for sharing such a detailed post.