Badlands, South Dakota

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I wasn’t prepared for just how incredibly gorgeous it was! I almost think it was cooler than the Grand Canyon (don’t hate me!). We entered the park at the Pinnacles Entrance and headed West on Sage Creek Rim Rd to visit the Prairie Dog Town. It was dirt road the whole way there, so even though it was a short distance, it took awhile to get there. We saw a few prairie dogs popping up out of their holes (apparently they come out more in the evening).

family hiking the Saddle Pass trailAfter seeing the prairie dogs, we headed back East and joined up with Loop Road. We stopped at most of the scenic overlooks. I’m not gonna lie… I was terrified my kids would fall over the edge. They don’t put railings up in most of these places, so it’s a little scary with kids. But the scenery was incredible, so it was definitely worth it! Josh was set on hiking a trail, so we picked the Saddle Pass Trail. It was kind of hot, but not TOO bad.

We loaded up our bag with waters, put on sunscreen, and headed out. The trail is only 1/4 mile, but it’s REALLY steep. And the ground was basically loose dirt, so we were all sliding around everywhere. About halfway up, I was tired of listening to Lia scream that she was slipping and couldn’t do it. So I told Josh to keep going with the other two and that she and I would turn around. She heard me say that and said, no, she wanted to make it all the way to the top. She’s not usually super adventurous, so I was really thrilled to see her respond that way!

We kept hiking and all five of us made it to the top. The view was awesome! And Lia was so proud of herself for making it all the way to the top. It was really tricky going back down, because it was so steep and the dirt was loose. The girls sat down and slid on their bottoms most of the way, which was slow going, but it worked.

family hike in the BadlandsHeading out of the park, we noticed a HUGE prairie dog statue and even though we really needed to get on the road, we decided to stop. For 50 cents a bag, you can buy prairie dog food (i.e. unsalted peanuts in the shell) in the gift shop of the Badlands Ranch Store. Once you buy the food, it’s free to get in and feed the prairie dogs. The kids were SO stoked to feed them, especially since we had seen prairie dogs earlier in the day. These prairie dogs must have been very well fed, because it took quite a bit of coaxing to get them to eat anything. But they eventually did eat some peanuts from the kids and they were happy.

Overall, we were thrilled with our trip to the Badlands and I think we'd be willing to drive all the way to South Dakota to visit it again. We could have spent days in there. Maybe next time we'll plan on camping.

More information:

kids feeding prairie dogs in South DakotaThe Badlands are located 75 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota.

There are three entrances to the park:

    Northeast Entrance (I-90, Exit 131): 21020 SD Hwy 240, Interior, SD 57750.

    Pinnacles Entrance (I-90, Exit 110): 24240 Hwy 240, Wall, SD 57790.

    Interior Entrance: 20640 SD Hwy 377, Interior, SD 57750.

The park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Entrance fees are $15/car, $10/motorcycle.

There are so many things to do in the Badlands National Park, including camping, hiking, participating in the summer ranger program, completing the GPS Adventure, and much more!

The Bandlands Ranch Store is located on the 240 Loop, which is accessible right past the exit from the Badlands National Park on the 240 Loop. It's 1.35 miles South of I-90.

It's open 8 am to 6 pm, May through mid-September

Admission to see the prairie dogs is free and you can purchase food to feed the prairie dogs for 50 cents a bag

There is a gift shop located inside as well, with plenty of trinkets and cold drinks for purchase.

girl running in the open fields at the Badlands
mom and daughter looking out at the Badlands
family trip to the Badlands in South Dakota
guy on a cliff visiting the Badlands National Park
family having a picnic lunch in the Badlands
kids climbing on rocks
family hiking the Saddle Pass trail
family hiking in the Badlands
steep hike in the Badlands
family portrait on top of a steep hill in the Badlands
girl standing by the Saddle Pass Trail marker
kids hiking in the Badlands National Park
kids sliding down the gravel hills in the Badlands
family hike in the Badlands
Saddle Pass Trail a tough but enjoyable hike in the Badlands
kids hiking in the Badlands
girl sliding down the Badlands hills
kids feeding prairie dogs in South Dakota
kids feeding prairie dogs at the Badlands Ranch Store
things to do in South Dakota feed the prairie dogs
girl feeding prairie dogs
girl feeding prairie dog at the Badlands Ranch Store
Article Type: 
In-Person Impressions


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