Drive the Loop Road

The Badlands Scenic Loop is ? mile drive on Highway 240 between Wall and Cactus Flat. You can drive it in either direction by exiting Interstate 90 at either exit 110 or exit 131. There are 12 marked overlooks along the route not including trail heads. Each overlook has an absolutely stunning view and I wouldn’t recommend missing any of them. The Park estimates the loop road to be about a one hour activity. For those of us who like to look, linger, photograph, and read posted signs it might take quite a bit longer.

The fee to enter the park is $15 per vehicle for a 7 day pass. The loop road is narrow so be cautious and obey the posted speed limits.  Watch out for the many large recreational vehicle.  If you’re the one driving the large RV then watch out for the little guys.

Badlands National Park, Scenic Loop, RV on road

If you are just driving through the Badlands and you are not planning to stay, then I would recommend that you skip a few of the overlooks and at least do one or two short hikes. There are four trails in the park that average 30 minutes or less round trip. Three of those trails are wheelchair accessible so they are very easy to hike. The Door and Window trails should not missed. Their trailheads begin in the same parking lot so you can do both very easily. Start with the Window Trail and when you see how easy and beautiful it is, then you want to the Door Trail too. Another short trail in the park is the Cliff Shelf Trail (.5 miles) which is rated moderate because there are quite a few stairs along the boardwalk trail as shown in the photo. The elevation change of the trail is about 200 feet.

Cliff Shelf Trail, Badlands National Park, Stairs

Lastly there is the Fossil Trail. Although this is a great educational trail, it is not nearly as scenic as the other three and should be saved for someone who is taking more than an afternoon to explore the Badlands National Park.

If you have the time, then don’t miss a single stop. They are each uniquely beautiful.