Our one night in Sage Creek has to be one of my favorite campground camping memories and is probably #1 for experiencing the National Parks. It's a strange spot. Just a big circular drive with not trees, spots are sort of marked by tables, but it gets too crowded for people to limit themselves to one camper per table. It's enough of a drive out there and people get there at hours, that people will just crowd in even if its officially overfilled, not that there an easy way to tell if it is or not. So definitely not your typical camping experience. But it is a free place to camp in a national park and doesnt require any reservations. There was a prairie dog colony right in the middle of the campground. You wont see the typical bonkers badlands geological features on this side of the park, but the grasslands are gorgeous and the flat spot where the campgrounds are is nestled between hills that were fun to scamper up. No water or fires. Come for the camaraderie, not the isolation.
We came in late, and although its seems like there are only about 10 designated sites with tables and the like, there's a bit off allowance for overflow and no one seemed to mind. Got to the Badlands just in time to see it in the fading light while our eardrums got used to the silence. After that we had to force our way though a herd of bufallo, but they weren't hostile or scared. It's a long trek to get back there, just don't get in a hurry.
There is one vault toilet and some trash cans scattered about.
You have to travel down 12 miles of gravel road in the Badlands to reach this campground but it is so worth it! The campsites are all on the outward edge of a big circular road, pretty close together, but still very quiet and respectful. There is NO COST and there are 2 vault toilet facilities provided. The adorable prairie dogs are everywhere but go to sleep with the sun. During the evening, a wild bison came to the campground edge to graze. The campground filled up by dark, so be sure to get there early for a place to camp. Picnic tables are also provided, some with sun shades.
Very quiet and scenic site. We arrived a little after dark and most of the sites were taken. While this site is “free” they ask you to go to the visitors center to pay the park entrance fee. We could hear the buffalo in the field next to the grounds all night. As well as the coyotes howling and yipping all night. We will certainly come back to this site on our next trip west! Be careful setting up after dark as there are prairie dog holes all around you.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!