Standard (tent/RV)
RV Sites
Tent Sites
No Fires
Pets Allowed
No Drinking Water
About Sage Creek
National Park Service
Drive In
Walk In
+ More
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
No Drinking Water
No Electric Hookups
No Fires
No Firewood Available
No Market
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Not Reservable
No Sanitary Dump
No Sewer Hookups
No Showers
Trash Available
No Water Hookups
No WiFi
Sage Creek is located in Badlands National Park in South Dakota
43.8941 N
-102.4139 W
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24 Reviews of Sage Creek

Where else can you find FREE camping in a National Park? This place is beyond beautiful. It can be very windy in a wide open meadow and hot but there are covered picnic tables at least. The views ans wildlife are just unbeatable. Trails all around, very clean pit toilets, a lot of space and just plain gorgeous and peaceful.

Simplistic as it should be! Amazing Wildlife - no shade

Simple camping (almost like a dirt parking lot) a wide open space; but it's free camping.

Had the opportunity to watch 3 coyotes playing in the early dawn hours. What an amazing experience!

This place is spectacular!

Camping as it should be

I LOVED my time here at Sage Creek. It is quite the drive from anywhere else in the park, but it is amazing. As we were setting up our tent on the first night, a lone bison walked through and checked out what was going on. It was incredible. There is bison poop throughout, so watch your step. Also, there is no running water on site or anywhere nearby, so be sure to pack your own. There are pit toilets. There aren't really designated sites, everyone sets up somewhere in the middle. Additionally, there are some horse facilities, but I would check on the NPS website for the particulars on that. Overall, it was a phenomenal place to camp. We got there around 4 p.m. and there were still plenty of places to set up. (We went in late August.) There is not a lot of privacy, but I didn't mind. It's free, so you really can't beat that.

Love bison and camping...what

First off I never thought I'd say that sentence…I love bison and camping..but I did and I do. There are many primitive back country camping options in the badlands but as far as easy free car camping this and one other.

Great for a night in a tent or camper van. Whatever suits you find a spot and it yours as long as you can fit and your respectful. Make sure to bring everything you need if you plan spending several days here. There's lots of amazing hiking in the badlands it is truly a unique place. It was the first time I've seen bison and to be able to camp so close is out of this world. I've now been here at a couple different times of year and each season has something special to offer. There was also a bunch of other wildlife that I got to observe respectfully and take some pretty sweet pics. I also took a drive and found a creek to meander. The stones in the creek were clay like and every color. That was pretty rad. Take a few days here it will be well worth it.


No shade...

Great, free camp spot on the far Western side of the Badlands. This place is a bit of a free-for-allbut there is plenty of space. The bison herds roam through here. There are many trails surrounding the campground as well.

Free, convenient place to crash

There are two campground options in Badlands -- and several backcountry options -- and Sage Creek was an awesome place to crash our first two nights in the park. We arrived late at night, and without reservations, we didn’t want to risk driving all the way to the developed campground. Sage Creek never really fills up -- and sites aren’t exactly designated, anyway -- so we squeezed our tent in.

Camping at Sage Creek is free, but that also means there is no water available here, so be prepared. There are picnic tables and pit toilets. The campground is more of an open field, where you can find a place to pitch your tent or park for the night. We had no trouble finding a place in the busy June season.

Sage Creek gave us pretty decent access to some of the highlights throughout the park: along with just driving through the massive badlands, we loved the Notch Trail and the Sheep Mountain Table Overlook hoodoos.

You can read much more about our four days in the park on our blog: Switchback Kids (Badlands)

This Campground has really changed

We've visited this part of the park frequently, mostly because it's free and you get to hang with the bison. But in the past years it's really changed. They now have a ring so to speak around the camping area. People park around it and then walk in and find a site. Not bad in a large group setting, it used to be much quieter. Knowing the bison is key. They can spook easily and there were people shining lights on them in the dark and in the past, we've witnessed where they don't care for that behavior. There are no fires allowed, which is fine, we brought our jetboil along. We saw a lot of camp stoves there. There are two enclosed pit toilets and a couple dumpsters, which was nice to see. There are bison all around and prairie dogs right in camp. Due to the increased numbers of people, there was a lot of light pollution, so what used to be a fabulous place to photograph stars, isn't so much anymore. Also, due to it being free and on the outskirts, no one to moderate excessive noise late at night. But all in all, it was a good place to rest for a couple nights. It is a really pretty place too and the wildlife can't be beat!

Such a cool place

This campground on the edge of Badlands National Park is totally in the middle of nowhere, and it takes quite a drive down gravel roads to get there. The roads are well-tended, but they still keep the large RV's out. This is an unusual campground. It is free camping, since it's totally primitive. It's basically a circle drive around an open space, and you just put your tent wherever you want to put it. The whole inner circle is level and well-tended. There are also horse corrals available on one side, and the smaller RV's and trailers pretty much gather there. There are a few covered picnic tables within the circle, and there are pit toilets on each end. The NPS website says that this place rarely fills to capacity, and that's because you just fill in an empty space. We were expecting total solitude, but there were quite a few people. There were vehicles parked around the whole circle, and there were probably 30-40 tents set up, but the space is so large that it didn't feel too cramped or close. The campground is so far from everything that it gets perfectly dark; it's wonderful for stargazing. We watched the moon come up over the hills, and it would have been perfect Milky Way viewing, but as one other camper said, "the full moon [was] shitting on it." We woke up in the morning to a couple of bison roaming through the campground grazing on the grass and wildflowers.

Long Drive, Boring Campground

This primitive campground is about as close as you can get to being in the middle of the Badlands in your car. The campsites are just pull-offs from the main road, with a large field for tents. Each site is more of a loosely defined space with a picnic table and integrated sunshade. Just next to the Badlands Wilderness Area, this camping area offers folks a chance to be out on the grassland plains without planning a backcountry experience. Wildlife often graze through the campground. The pit-toilets are from the 1960’s and were heavily used and a little gross (and I have a relatively high tolerance for these sorts of johns). 

There is nothing special about this campground, other than the location. It is little more than a place to sleep and make food; the real magic of the park is all around and should be explored rather than viewed from the picnic table within the campground. First come, first served. No reservations available.

Minimalist Camping in the Badlands National Park

Do wide open spaces and dark skies call you to seek adventure? Sage Creek Campground is a remote area in the Badlands with easy access on a dirt road. Traveling to the CG on the Sage Creek Rim Road gave us breathtaking views of the Badlands. The overlooks provided great views for sunset photos. Wildlife was abundant - bison, prairie dogs, badgers and serenading coyotes were seen on this visit. The campground is free but you must provide your own water. Fires are not allowed but cooking stoves are fine. The outhouses - two vaults - were very clean. If you want to experience bison up close and personal this is the campground for you. Bison roam the area at will so you need to exert caution in this area as there are no leash laws for buffalo :). Although we drive through the park frequently the recent visit to this campground gave us more reasons to appreciate this park. I'd recommend spring and fall for the best camping as it can get extremely hot during the summer.