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When planning our trip out West, we polled our friends and family to see if there was anywhere worth stopping on our way to Mt. Rushmore. A friend tipped us off to the Badlands, which we discovered was only a mere 20 minutes away from the highway.

Naturally we decided to tack them on to the drive, since 56 hours of driving is surely not enough.

Also, they look spectacular.

The Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park is located in the south western part of South Dakota just a 20 minute drive from I-90 and roughly 40 minutes away from Rapid City. Admission to the park is $15 per car, which is valid for 7 days.

While there are plenty of places to camp around the Badlands, it can get really, really hot. While we were there the temperature was in the low 90’s, which was pretty rough. Fortunately, we brought plenty of water.

For daytrippers, a good alternative is to drive the Badlands Loop, a ~40 mile drive which starts and stops on I-90, dropping you off at Wall Drug if you are traveling east to west. There are roughly eight walks, off of the Badlands Loop, ranging from .25 miles in length to 10 miles.

Since we were pressing on to Rapid City (and since the heat was oppressing), we decided to do some of the shorter walks.

Big Badlands Overlook – close to the West entrance, a lovely vista.

The Door (.25 miles) – an easy walk with an amazing pay off.

The Window (.25 miles) – located next to The Door.

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail (.5 miles) – a wild life trail (we saw 1 bird).

Saddle Pass (.5 miles) – strenuous climb with an awesome payoff.

Once you get past all of the walks, the views continue for what seems like an eternity, giving you plenty of opportunities to pull over and take pictures. It’s just too beautiful to resist.

Whether you’re the type of person that likes to camp & hike, or if you just like driving and snapping photos the Badlands National Park is definitely worth a visit.

Tomorrow, we’ll be talking about Mt. Rushmore and the Devils Tower as we continue our drive into the West!