In 1976, Badlands National Monument entered into an agreement with the Oglala Lakota Nation to co-manage and protect 122,000 acres that had been used as an aerial bombing range during World War II. This doubled the size of the Monument and led Congress to redesignate the area as Badlands National Park in 1978. The new Badlands National Park was now subdivided into two units: the North Unit, consisting of park land north of Highway 44, and the South Unit, park land south of Highway 44. The South Unit contains many sites sacred to the Oglala Lakota and other American Indian cultures. Please show respect by not touching or removing objects tied to trees and shrubs. All artifacts must be left in place. Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles at all times in the Stronghold District. The White River Visitor Center was opened in 1978 and has remained open during the summer months to provide orientation to the South Unit and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Due to the quantity of unexploded ordnance that continues to litter the areas used for bombing practice, a multi-agency task force is working toward clearing the South Unit of these devices. Please contact a ranger if you find an unexploded ordnance. Cellular phones can detonate these devices.
The South Unit remains largely undeveloped and lacks access points, such as roads and trails. The South Unit is a protected natural area and is not managed as a four-wheeldrive recreation area. Travelers must remain on existing primitive road tracks. Do not leave these tracks. We encourage anyone interested in backcountry hiking or camping in the South Unit to notify the ranger at the White River Visitor Center to ensure your safety and that you are not trespassing on private lands. Explorers must often cross private land to access the public land. Always obtain permission from landowners for vehicular or foot access before setting out for Cuny Table, Stronghold Table, and Palmer Creek. A list of land owners is available at the White River Visitor Center. Be prepared with alternative destinations if land owners do not grant permission to cross their property. Hikers in the South Unit must be experienced map readers. Plan on a minimum of two days to hike in and out of the remote Palmer Creek area. Exploring the South Unit One of the few designated roads is the Sheep Mountain Table Road, 4 miles south of the town of Scenic on Pennington County Road 589. The stunning views from windswept Sheep Mountain Table are accessible under dry conditions, but the road is impassable when wet or snow covered (high clearance vehicles recommended). Please use caution along the unstable cliff edges of the table. Sheep Mountain Table is designated a day use area. Overnight camping is not allowed. 10 task force is working toward clearing the South Unit of these devices. Please contact a ranger if you find an unexploded ordnance. Cellular phones can detonate these devices.