The park encompasses the largest prairie wilderness in the United States, where expansive grasslands make cross-country travel unique. Vast ranges of classic badlands provide rugged, challenging terrain for even skilled hikers. Wildlife is close and abundant. Best of all, it's never crowded; hikers often have hundreds of acres to themselves.
The Badlands has no formal system of backcountry permits or reservations. Let friends and relatives know when you depart and when you expect to return. Rangers at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center can assist in planning a safe, enjoyable excursion by offering directions, safety tips, maps, and information sheets.
When planning your backcountry hike, examine past, present, and forecasted weather carefully. With even a small amount of precipitation, some trails can become slick and impassable. Carry water if you think you could be out for as little as a half-hour. Cross-country hikers are encouraged to carry a map, compass, and water, and to wear or carry appropriate clothing. No campfires are allowed. All overnight backcountry hikers should discuss their route with a park ranger before departure.
Spring and fall may be the best times to experience the Badlands backcountry. Days are often pleasant, and nights are cool. In summer, temperatures often exceed 100°F (38°C) and pose health hazards. Avoid heat sickness by drinking plenty of water and avoiding the midday sun. Only the hardiest hikers attempt winter backpacking trips. Severe winter temperatures coupled with strong winds and blizzards make backcountry survival difficult for the unprepared. Winter hikers should speak with a ranger at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center before setting out.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.