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Badlands National Park

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About Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The Lakota people were the first to call this place "mako sica" or "land bad."

"Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name. In the early 1900s, French-Canadian fur trappers called it "les mauvais terres pour traverse," or "bad lands to travel through."

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today

How much time should I plan?

Keystone to Wall SD takes about 1 hour 15 minutes

While you are in Wall you will want to stop at the famous Wall Drug.  Allow an hour or two.

The time needed to see Badlands National Park depends. To fully experience most of what the Badlands has to offer, it takes two days. To drive through the park and stop at a few overlooks, it takes about two hours. Here are a few highlights you won't want to miss & the minimum time needed.

  • Drive the Highway 240 Badlands Loop Road (60 minutes if you do not stop at any overlooks)
  • Stop at a minimum of two scenic overlooks (30 minutes)
  • Drive the Sage Creek Rim Road to see animals and additional views (30 to 60 minutes - depending on the distance covered)
  • Hike a trail or explore the backcountry (variable time/distances - 30 minutes to all day)
  • Attend a ranger fossil talk (30 min) or guided walk (60 minutes)
  • Stop at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center (60 minutes)
  • Go to the White River Visitor Center (45 minutes - does not include travel time to the facility)
  • Take in a sunset or sunrise (20 minutes)
  • Tour the South Unit of the park (45 minutes to all day)

Your Trip through the Badlands will end at Red Shirt SD.  From here it takes about 45 minutes to get back to Keystone.

A reasonable round trip through Badlands National Park from Keystone is about 10 hours

Badlands National Park Gallery