Badlands National Park, SOUTH DAKOTA
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Camping South Dakota Badlands National Park
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Fantastic and free

5.5 south of Wall SD On hwy 240. Take a right at the tv towers and drive in to the rim of the wall. Free disbursed camping a mile north of the entrance to the Badlands National Park. No facilities and a rough road in, but worthwhile.

Primitive Campground in an Amazingly Wild Spot

There's a lot of wildlife in Badlands National Park, but we saw the bulk of it right in Sage Creek Campground. This is a totally free campground, which is basically a field surrounding a prairie dog town, with two pit toilets and no water. There is also no shade, but there are a few picnic tables under sun shelters in the campground.

Unfortunately, we didn't score a sun shelter because we arrived late in the day. We did have a tarp that we set up over our picnic table for shade. During our stay in July, we saw several bison in the campground, as well as hawks, meadowlarks, magpies, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and a family of burrowing owls. 

There are trails that lead up to the surrounding hills, and plenty of wide-open spaces to explore. If the campground gets busy, it does feel a bit like the grounds of a festival, as there is no privacy and people tend to pitch their tents wherever there is room. Also, it took us about an hour to drive back and forth from the visitor center, and the road is extremely rough, so you have to drive really slow. 

We loved Sage Creek Campground - the remoteness, the wildlife, and the amazing sky, and would definitely return! Sites do fill up in the busy summer season, but not until late in the evening.

Amazing views!

Despite some not so positive reviews, we enjoyed our one-night stay at Cedar Pass. Yes, the campground layout is not well designed. Not really accommodating for large rigs but that was ok for us - our 17-foot camper van just fit in the gravel drive. I can understand why those with large rigs/trailers would not be happy. No shade but great views of the buttes, especially from sites on the outside of the loop. Bathrooms not the cleanest but not the worst. The picnic table was covered but the morning sun in site 5 was brutal and we ate inside our van. Easy walk to the store/restaurant(food not terrible and some vegetarian options). Also accessible to the amphitheater. Glad we made reservations; the campground was full on a Monday night in July. Definitely recommend the short but challenging Notch trail!

Nice sites and nice people

Great location if you are visiting the Badlands. The sites were all nice with lots of trees around. The pull through sites in the back of the park were huge. Modern and clean bathrooms and showers. The pool was over chlorinated but was clean and well kept. Friendly staff that you can tell really care about making this a nice campground.


My three girls and I were so excited to get to our campsite after an eight hour drive. When we got to the office, we had to wait to check in, because the keeper was on the phone. It gave us a chance to check out the pool. Nasty, green and tiny is how my kids described it to me. We finally were able to talk with the check in lady and she said “ well, I guess I’d call the pool out of order, probably for the summer!” I then got the map of the campground and bought a small bundle of wood…$8.00 a bundle…! We found our site, ten feet from a swamp on uneven, unmowed grass. The fire pit, was tiny, with a half of a grate for cooking. We actually, set up our tent, under an out building, since that was the only ground that was level and not swarming with mosquitos. We are making out the best we can, but will NEVER be back to tent, or camp at this campgrounds again!

July 2019 mosquito heaven

Pack deet bug spray and long sleeves. This year was a wet one and everywhere in the Badlands is mosquito heaven.. Besides that the parks great

Great site near visitors center

Great amenities. Not officially inside the park but very very close. Great views and great staff


Nice primitive camp no water. Your basically in a large circle field. All sites are on a first come First serve. ITS FREE! That’s the best part and your officially in the park. Great trails up the hills through flowers

Great place to stay

Very close to Wall Drug attraction, quiet camp ground accommodating RVs and tents. We camped in a tent, and although it rained enjoyed our stay. Staff is nice, facilities are clean. Would recommend!

Perfect location

On an “I’m gunna lose my mind if I don’t get outta here” whim, I picked this campground as it seemed to be right in the middle of everything. In one day we checked out Mt Rushmore, drove back to the camp site to have lunch then went to the badlands and before leaving the next morn, we tootled around wall drug. We lucked out getting a tent site with the shelter as I was unprepared for the rain and wind. We had a nice stay at a nice little clean campground and the dog enjoyed running around the fenced pet area after spending so much time in the car.


Our first time boondocking! And what a beautiful area! We watched a storm roll in for miles.! Love mother natures light show! And it was relaxing listening to the coyotes at night.

Where the bison roam

Primitive campground, with no water, no designated sites, no RV hook-ups, and no fee. So bring your own water (you can fill up at the visitor center or in Wall), and enjoy the peaceful open space!

The campground is accessed via Sage Creek Rd, which is a maintained gravel road that can become a little rough after rain. There are a few picnic tables with shades over them, and two pit toilets. Your neighbors will be other solitude seekers, the local bison herd, a killer sunset, more stars in the sky than your mind can handle. The night will be filled with the sounds of coyotes, the wind blowing through the hills of prairie grasses, and the bison chomping their midnight snack. It's a magical place. 

I've camped here in more than one season, and had a memorable experience each time.

worth it to stay in the park

Campground is not one of my favorites… I enjoy more seclusion, some tree cover, and less of an RV parking lot feel BUT it's totally worth it to deal with these tiny details in order to experience the badlands!  The sites were grassy and level so having a tent wasn't an issue.  The bathrooms were fine and sites were clean so I cannot complain too much :) 

The area surrounding the campgrounds is what brought us here, no the accommodations.  The park is AMAZING! Such a unique park of the country- breathtaking sunsets and unique hikes.  I highly recommend finding a place each night to watch the sun go down!  Lots of wildlife around as well. 

*Wall Drug isn't anything fancy, but it's worth it to check it off your list if you gotta make a trip into town.

Great jumping off point for hiking the Western badlands

A primitive campground without drinking water or electricity. Fires are not allowed. There is is space for RVs and horses. It is a national park so check on pet regulations. 

The upside, Buffalo can wander through your camp. Or pose in the prairie next to the camp. Great hikes into the park.

Oh, all the things they say about being careful around buffalo, they mean it. I saw a couple who walked too close to a buffalo. Lucky for them the startled animal went away but they were in serious danger.

Bare bones camping

Electric only sites. Not really sites as much as semi wide spots in road. Most of the loops are backwards so that your awning would hang over road. We pulled in backwards, after clearing it with the young woman at the gate, and let our slide hang out to the road. Very strange. It is wide open camping. There is a permanent wind break/shelter at each site with picnic table. Did I mention it is wide open? The hills around the park are simply amazing. The sunrise and sunsets are inspiring. There is hiking nearby and a beautiful park drive loop that should not be missed. We stayed two nights and the wind blew about 50mph both nights. It was about 103° during the day. Plan to hike in the mornings. The bathrooms are old and in need of renovation, but clean. The dump station is situated by another loop that has the same wide spot in the road sites. A guy in a huge 5th wheel was parked in such a way that we had to back back about 1/4 mile out of the dump station to get out. He was totally in the way and was on top of his coach not caring. Thankfully it was not a busy morning at the dump. There’s all kinds in state and national parks. We were there for the scenery and the hiking so the super sparse conditions were fine.

Stay here to see Badlands NP

We stayed overnight in a W/E PT for $48. The campground has lots of trees and there's a nice size dog run. Only a few minutes drive from Badlands NP entrance.


Haven’t seen anyone else out here. It’s deafeningly quiet, except for the animals.

Take in the scenery

If you are camping here, you came for the amazing views of the Badlands, and you have them from your campsite. It is a wide open campground with little to no shade except for the built in shade screen on your picnic table. Expect wind. We struggled a little to get our tent up at first due to the high winds that whip through the campground. There is little privacy due to the lack of trees and no fires are allowed. The visitor center is nearby and has all your last minute needs as well as a diner. There is also an amphitheater close where we caught a concert of new music inspired by national parks. Bathrooms were average with pay showers. Whatever the campground is lacking in amenities is overshadowed by the scenery of the Badlands.

Badlands beautiful

This campground was great - it was fairly easy to get to (in an RAV4) and in the park which I liked a lot. They had rangers come and do some demonstrations which was fun. Only downsides were a lot of other campers and that morning heat.

Mid October

We spent one night at this site. We were traveling through. First come, first spot. On our night, the coyotes were around camp after dark. And it was very dark outside! We had a pop-up and could hear and feel them going under our slide outs. The tenters that we saw in the morning were in their vehicles. Not sure if it was the coyotes or the freezing rain later in the night.
We plan to come back and spend a few days there to get some hiking in. Beautiful country!

Nice Enough, But...

Great views, clean restrooms and showers, showers for a fee. Camping is on the roadside turnouts, and close together. If two larger units are on opposite sides of the road there is very little room to drive between them. Difficult to maneuver. We were there on September 25, with the campground about half full. I imagine that during peak season it would be really difficult to get around.

Stars for Stars!

I love the Badlands for the amazing views and awesome hiking trails they have to offer. The Cedar Pass campground is a very nice and clean site to stay at. They have tent, group, RV and cabin sites plus there is a shelter covering a picnic table at every site, which is great because there is usually a ton of wind. Obviously, it is the Badlands so there aren’t any trees, so do not expect shade or much privacy from your neighbors.

Be aware that some of the sites will flood during rainy days so I would call ahead and see before you reserve if the weather is not going to be great. It can also get quite cool so just make sure you bring the sunscreen even in the cooler weather because the Sun will still get you. The facilities were pretty clean while I was here. There are showers and also a dish washing station that is very convenient. There is also a restaurant and store on site which is awesome if you need supplies or just some hot food and coffee.

Now the campsite is great but what makes this place golden is that it is in the Badlands National Park. They have some of the most amazing trails and you cannot beat the view of the night sky. You are miles away from city lights. I love bringing my telescope and walking a little ways from the campsite at night to set up. This is the perfect place for star gazing! The views at this place will want you wishing to come back for years to come!

Fun and open campground surrounded by Badlands Landscape

Fun, open style campground. Heard distant coyotes at night, and woke up to bison strolling through in the morning. Make sure you have water, there is none available. If you can snag a spot, camp near one of the covered picnic tables. Amazing stargazing. Best of all, it is free!

Very cool

camping in badlands is like camping on mars. No trees, hard ground- plan accordingly. This is actually the land of a small motel so it’s super basic. But there’s a little store and restaurant and bathrooms.


Really glad we decided to spend a night in the BL on our way to the black hills. it’s worth a night and Cedar Pass is the only option in the park. You camp here for the views around you--There’s not much to the cg itself. Windy! it had our pop-up rocking a bit even with all the windows open.

Be sure to get dinner at the restaurant--get the Sioux Taco on the special bread—-soooooo good! (looks big enough to share but once you taste it you won’t want to share!)

Beautiful View

This is a one of a kind campsite! It had the most beautiful view. Driving in we didn't think we would get a spot because there were already so many campers, but there were still so many spots left. It is a huge campsite! The only scary part was how windy it was because we were camping on a cliff, but there is parking further away from the cliff! There is a fence at the entrance that you have to open and close when entering. I would definitely stay here again!

Best kept secret

This is dispersed campgrounds that's beyond belief. The sites had their own cabana with a picnic table but no trees and no water. There was a vault toilet that was guarded by a field of prairie dogs that cheeped at us like we were invading aliens from outer space, There was also a herd of Bison that came into the camping area and on one occasion I woke up to find one within 5 feet of my tent just munching on grass. I arrived the last week of May but it was still pretty hot, there were a few raining windy nights and I ended up crashing in the car my last night but that didn't take away for the fact that it was wonderful. I stayed for 4 nights and hiked around the park during the day.

Beautiful and Primative

Sage Creek is a free and primitive campground in the Badlands National Park. It is absolutely beautiful and surrounded by grassland. The only amenities are vault toilets-there is no water at the site, but you can fill up at the outside faucet at the visitor center before heading down the road to the campsite. There are 12 miles of gravel roads (some great pull offs along this road for pictures) to get to the site, so low clearance vehicles may want to watch out when it rains. The early morning is awesome at this campsite, its quiet, the sun is rising over the hills and sometimes wildlife can be seen munching away.

The bison frequently roam through this site and I urge all campers to stay a safe distance from the bison as they are wild and unpredictable.

The only complaint I really have about this site, is more of a concern. In recent years there has been a problem with over crowding at the site, for example, more people staying than allowed, people driving and camping outside the designated campgrounds, being loud, crowding other campers, etc. While we were there, we saw a truck barrel over a prairie dog town, parents allowing their children to throw things at the prairie dogs or stick things into the animal's dens and an argument over a campsite. I just hope that those who choose to camp here keep the park rules and the leave no trace principles in mind. This is a beautiful place and a joy to visit the quiet grasslands.

Walk to Badlands Natl Park

The Tilson’s keep their campground and motel well maintained, have hookups for campers, and fire rings for campsites. Can purchase wood from them. Amazing view of the Badlands, and can walk into the park. beautiful pastures with horses surround. minutes from Highway 90.


Not much to this place. Two pit toilets, picnic tables, and trash service. we had some rainy weather and part of the campground was muddy but it held back the crowds. Prarie Dogs and Bison are right in camp along with the idiots who get way to close to the wild animals! A great find though and easy to access.