Are you tired of the daily grind at work? Need an escape?
Grab the family and pack your bags for a trip to Badlands National Park!
Covering over 244,000 acres of South Dakota natural beauty, Badlands National Park is a dream vacation destination. The best way to see this national wonder is with an RV vacation.
Follow along and learn everything there is to know about RV camping in Badlands National Park!
Badlands National Park Facts
Established in 1943, Badlands National Park’s rugged beauty, unique wildlife, and incredible archaeological history draw around a million visitors per year.
Before you head off to the South Dakota wilds, learn more about the park with a few more fascinating Badlands National Park facts.
- The park was an ancient shallow sea 75 million years ago. The evidence of its past can be seen today in the park’s geology and archeological discoveries.
- Badlands has been used as a film location for dozens of movies including, Starship Troopers (1997) and Armadgeddon (1998).
- The U.S. Air Force seized much of Badlands National Park during WWII from the native Oglala Lakota. Parts of the land were then turned into a bomb testing range until late 1942.
- Fossils are common in the park. In fact, in 2010, a young visitor found a saber-tooth cat fossil at Badlands National Park that is said to be one of the best-preserved examples in the world.
- There are 206 bird species in Badland, and the park is known for its bighorn sheep, bison, and pronghorn.
- Bison used to dominate the national park’s current territory, but they were nearly wiped out by market hunting in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thankfully, today they are making a comeback with over 1,200 in the park boundaries!
Photo Credit: Instagram User @emacampanella
Best Badlands National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Badlands National Park may not be as well known as Yellowstone or Yosemite, but there’s a reason the park attracts so many visitors each year.
Whether you want to go camping, biking, horseback riding, or just go on a scenic drive through nature, this place has something for everyone.
Try an RV rental for Badlands National Park to experience it all in comfort and style. RV camping near Badlands National Park is fun for the whole family, and it won’t break the bank.
There are plenty of RV parks near Badlands National Park, so don’t worry about being left on the side of the road!
Cedar Pass Campground
Amenities: Cedar Pass Campground is the largest RV campground in Badlands National Park. Set on open grass lots overlooking beautiful rock formations, Cedar Pass is a relaxing spot. All sites include a shaded picnic table area and wind blocks. Showers, toilets, and water are nearby, but there is a 14-night limit to stays that applies during the summer.
The National Park Service does not operate the site, and you’ll need to reserve a spot online or by phone if you want to stay.
Capacity: There are 96 sites in the campground, and many offer partial RV hookups with electricity only.
More information: Cedar Pass Campground
Sage Creek Campground
Amenities: Sage Creek is the smaller of the two RV parks in Badlands National Park. The free spot is rustic and doesn’t offer many amenities, but it has beautiful views of the ridges and canyons of the park. Campfires aren’t allowed, but there are picnic tables and plenty of clean open air.
Capacity: There are just 22 sites at the park, and all are first-come, first-serve. Additionally, the max length is 18 feet for RVs and trailers.
More information: Sage Creek Campground
White River KOA Campground
Amenities: Just six miles from Badlands National Park, you’ll find White River KOA Campground. If you’re looking for RV hookups and more amenities, this is a great spot. Pets are allowed, and there are restrooms, showers, a pool, and free WiFi.
Capacity: There are 139 sites at White River with plenty of full hookups of all variations (15, 30, 50 amp) and pull-through sites.
More information: White River KOA Campground
Badlands Interior Motel and Campground
Amenities: Even closer to Badlands National Park, near a small grocery store, is Badlands Interior Motel and Campground. The park entrance is just three minutes away, and the Minuteman National Historic Site is also closeby. This place has all the amenities you could want with bathrooms, showers, a pool, WiFi, and more.
Capacity: The Campground has 60 sites, including full hookups (15, 30, 50 amp) and pull-through sites.
More information: Badlands Interior Motel and Campground
Minute Man RV Park and Lodging
Amenities: Minute Man RV Park has all the amenities you could want, and the Badlands National Park entrance is just three miles down the road. Plus, it’s located across the street from a small store and fuel station. Minute Man RV Park is one of the top Badlands National Park RV sites around if you're looking for comfort and convenience.
Capacity: The place features 60 sites with RV full hookups (15, 20, 30, 50 amp) and a few pull-through sites.
More information: Minute Man RV Park and Lodging
Best Time to Visit Badlands National Park for RV Camping
Badlands National Park is known for its temperature extremes. In the summer, temperatures can reach as high as 116° F in parts of the park; temperatures can fall to -40° F in the winter.
Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you can’t visit Badlands year-round! There’s no best time to visit Badlands National Park, as long as you come prepared and check the local weather forecast.
The winter in Badlands National Park can be challenging for some guests. Temperatures average around freezing during the day, and there is typically between 12 to 24 inches of total snowfall. Winter activities include snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Also, be aware of closed roads. Although Cedar Pass Campground remains open all year, the roads to Sage Creek Campground close at times during winter, so be careful if you plan on staying there.
Spring is probably one of the best times of year to visit Badlands National Park. If you love wildlife, open trails, cool temperatures, and fewer park visitors, come during the spring.
Temperatures in early spring can still be chilly, but by mid-March, the average daytime temperature hikes up over 50° F. It’s perfect for hiking, biking, or horseback riding the hundreds of miles of trails.
Most visitors come to Badlands in the summer. It can get hot in the summer in South Dakota, especially during late July and August. There are also 16 inches of precipitation annually, most of which falls during the warmer months.
Still, the park gets a lot of visitors because the trails are open, the park rangers lead classes, and kids are on summer break. Plus, the summer is a great time to spot a bison roaming the plains.
In the fall, beautiful colors fill the canyons of Badlands. There are fewer visitors in the park as well, and birds are migrating back to the park. If you’re a bird watcher, fall is the time of year for you.
The cooler temperatures during the season also make it ideal for hiking and biking the many trails.
Photo Credit: Instagram User @trustyourtrail
Things to Do in Badlands National Park
Where to start? There are so many things to do in Badlands National Park; there’s no way we could list them all. Here are just a few of our top selections.
- Take a scenic drive down Sage Creek Rim Road or Badlands Loop Road.
- Visit the Cedar Pass Amphitheatre for stargazing on a warm summer night.
- Head to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and learn about the fascinating history and geology of Badlands.
- Check out the fossils preparation lab, and learn about the incredible mosasaurs who ruled the area 75 million years ago.
- Try a day hike at the beautiful 1.5-mile Notch Trail or 4-mile Medicine Root Loop. Or, for a shorter trip with a great view, try the half-mile Cliff Shelf Trail.
- Bring your camera, and come prepared to say cheese when you visit these breathtaking vistas: Panorama Point and Pinnacles Overlook.
- Don't be afraid to step out of the RV and go bicycling hundreds of miles of trails in the Badlands.
Tips on Visiting Badlands National Park
Before you head out on your RV camping in Badlands National Park, prepare for the park’s unpredictable wind, weather, and native wildlife!
Here are some more top tips to make your experience RV camping in Badlands National Park, nothing but pure outdoor fun!
- Visitors should dress in layers and bring hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, and rain jackets for the summer. In the winter, you’ll need to dress in snow gear to enjoy the park.
- Admission to Badlands costs $30 for a vehicle permit, $25 for a motorcycle permit, or $15 for an individual hiking or biking permit. You can also get a Badlands National Park annual pass for $55.
- Don’t miss out on the Badlands Astronomy Festival in early July!
- Unfortunately, pets are not permitted on park trails, so you’ll have to keep your dog home.
- Badlands is known for its dramatic, colorful sunrises and sunsets. Check out the sunrise at the Big Badlands Overlook or sunset at Pinnacles Overlook, and don’t forget the camera!
- If you have a four-wheel capable vehicle hitched to your RV, try taking it to the top of Sheep Mountain Table for offroad fun.
Photo Credit: Instagram User @geedirkis
RV Rental for Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park has much to offer—you won’t want to miss any of it. That’s where an RV from Cruise America can help.
Cruise America RVs come with all the comforts of home, including air conditioning, a freshwater toilet, a gas cooktop, a generator, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a shower. On top of that, Cruise America RVs are pet friendly and allow towing.
Start your RV adventure today and experience all Badlands National Park has to offer in the best way possible—with an RV!