Best time of year to visit Badlands National Park

Best time of year to visit Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is in South Dakota and has a unique landscape. One of many US geological wonders, Badlands hide buttes and pinnacles formed with thousands of years of erosion. With the rocky part of the Park on one side and the largest part of undistributed mixed-grass prairie on the other side, Badlands draw numerous visitors into the Park.

All foreign visitors roaming Midwest and Dakotas looking for authentic American experience, beautiful nature, and Native American heritage need travel authorization. How long is an ESTA valid for?

Once you get ESTA approval, you can visit the US for the next two years. The procedure is straightforward and consists of a detailed online questionnaire. The administration usually takes around three days to process the application.

Best time to visit Badlands National Park

The Southwest part of South Dakota has a semi-arid climate with low precipitation throughout the year. The best time of the year to visit is from May to late September when the weather is warmest.

June is the wettest month in Badlands, but it is not like there is rain all the time. Summer is peak season, and you might find big crowds.

The absolute best period for exploring the incredible geological wealth of the Park is in late summer and early fall when there are fewer crowds, and the weather is still acceptable.

If you come in the summer months, come prepared with adequate climbing shoes, lots of water, and sunscreen. It can get sweltering, and there is no natural shade, so you’ll need to be careful.

How to get into Badlands

The closest town to Badlands National Park in Rapid City, some 75 miles to the west. You can come via Interstate 90 a little to the north and then connect to the Badlands Loop Road, known as Highway 240.

An alternative route is State Highway 44, from which you can get excellent scenic access close to the small town of the Interior.

There are three roads in the Park. The Badlands Loop Road is a regular paved road in the northern part of the Badlands. A gravel Sage Creek Rim Road goes through the north rim of the Badlands Wilderness Area.

Sheep Mountain Table Road is between the North and South Unit of the Park. It’s a dirt road, and you should avoid it during and after the storms.

Badlands backcountry camping

Whether you plan to visit the prairie and admire the majestic bison that roam the Park or go to the North Unit and explore buttes, pinnacles, and other incredible rock formations, there are some ground rules for backcountry camping.

Although you don’t need a permit, you should inform the park personnel. Your camp should be at least half of mile from the road. Campfires are forbidden, and the same applies to pets.

The Park also recommends at least a gallon of water per person daily and appropriate shoes. Summer temperatures can get extremely hot, and thunderstorms are common, so you’ll need to check the wheater forecast before heading into the backcountry.

Badlands National Park sunset

The Park is a photographer’s dream, both for sunset and sunrise photography. Beautifully colored rock formations light up under the magic of the fading sun. Red rocks, shades of yellow and other colors in pinnacles and buttes are additionally saturated.

The best locations to film the sunset are Pinnacles Overlook and Bigfoot Pass Picnic Area.  You can also try Conata Basin Overlook or Norbeck Pass area. The eastern part of Walking the Castle Trail is also significant for Instagram-worthy shots of the Park.

If you can get early in the morning, there are a couple of great sunrise locations. You can get perfect photos from Big Badlands Overlook, Panorama Point, and the Norbeck Pass Area.

Badlands National Park restaurant

There is only one restaurant in the 379.3 square miles of the protected area of the Park. Cedar Pass Lodge is near Ben Reifel Visitor Center, and you can get a full meal at the premises. Around the Park, there are a couple of well-reviewed restaurants. You can refill your energy at Badlands Saloon and Grille or Red Rock Restaurant & Lounge in the Wall. On the other side in the Interior, you can have traditional American food at Wagon Wheel Bar & Grill.

Before makingthe South Dakota itinerary, do your esta application check to make sure your reservations and bookings are not wasted. Some ESTA applications do get turned down. You will have plenty of time to make plans after the approval.

Bottom line

Badlands can be an excellent stop for people visiting the Mount Rushmore monument or if you’re exploring the Old West historic places. Badlands and South Dakota hide some of the most incredible sights and geological formations. You can also experience the prairie, the bison, and the rich heritage of Native American tribes.