Best Time to Visit Badlands National Park

The park’s temperature ranges from -40 to 116 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s located in the middle of the plains, which means it experiences more extreme weather than the nearby Black Hills.

Like other areas in the region, it’s windy all year round. However, during the winter and spring, the winds are most potent.

Temperatures reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer season. Thunderstorms are also possible, and hail storms can sometimes accompany them. The park experiences pleasant late spring and early fall days, although usually cold nights.

In this article, we will be talking about the best time to visit Badlands National Park.

Where Is Badlands National Park?

Located in South Dakota’s Black Hills region, the park features over 250,000 acres of land, including sharply eroded pinnacles and buttes.

It also has the most extensive undisturbed mixed-grass prairie in the country. In 1978, it was redesignated as a national park.

The National Park Service manages the park, co-managed by the Oglala Lakota tribe.

The park’s dramatic landscape features towering spires, layered rock formations, and canyon walls. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is located near the park’s main entrance.

A variety of trails are also located near the center. One of these is the Fossil Exhibit Trail, which features a display of fossils.

See Also: Best Time to Visit Mount Rushmore

Weather at Badlands National Park

The best time to Visit Badlands National Park largely depends on the weather. The climate in the park can be unpredictable.

Temperatures can reach from 116 degrees Fahrenheit to -40 degrees Fahrenheit in the Badlands National Park.

The park experiences hot and dry weather, with occasional thunderstorms. June is the wettest month, while December and January are the driest.

Regardless of the season, it’s essential to be aware of the weather’s unpredictable nature.

To protect yourself from the elements, it’s necessary to dress in layers and bring plenty of water if you are hiking.

During the summer season, getting plenty of sunscreen and hats is essential. In the spring, it’s crucial to wear water-resistant shoes.

In the winter, there’s usually around 12 to 24 inches of snow. To keep up with the weather, check the local weather forecast daily.

This will allow you to know when and where the weather will be best. You can also learn more about the day-to-day conditions by visiting the park’s website.

Weather at Badlands National Park by Months

As we earlier opined, the best time to visit Badlands National Park is mainly dependent on several factors, chief among which is the weather.

Therefore, we will highlight the weather conditions in Badlands National Park by month.


In January, the average high temperature is expected to reach around 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The low temperature in the month is approximately 11 degrees Fahrenheit.

In January, the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo are held in the park. This event is family-friendly and attracts thousands of people from around South Dakota.


In February, the high temperature is expected to reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The low temperature in the month is 16 degrees Fahrenheit.

To keep up with the weather, it’s important to dress warm and take note of the daily forecast.


Temperatures are expected to be slightly warmer in February, with highs of 48 degrees Fahrenheit and lows of 24 degrees Fahrenheit.

To keep up with the weather, it’s important to dress warm and take note of the daily forecast. You can also check out the best places to visit in the park by visiting the visitor’s center.


Temperatures in the park are expected to reach 62 degrees Fahrenheit during the month.

In addition, the rain expected to fall in the park during the next couple of months will also cause the bison to shed their winter coats.

Keeping them away is essential to avoid getting too close to the animals.


Although the weather has been favorable in the park, more rain is expected to arrive in the next couple of months.

Therefore, the best time to visit the park is during the late spring and early summer. Aside from the weather, the best time to see wildlife and flowers in the park is during this period.


The park is usually expected to receive around 3.12 inches of rain this month. The weather will be pleasant throughout the day, with temperatures reaching around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the evening, the temperature will be approximately 56 degrees Fahrenheit.


Expect the weather to be pleasant throughout July. During this period, bison breed and can be seen fighting for their mating rights.

Bulls can also be heard throughout the area with a loud and clear bellow.


Despite the less rain the park experiences in August, the high temperatures are still expected to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

This month, the number of people visiting the park is expected to be higher.


The hot weather starts to taper off in September, which means that the average temperature in the park will decrease to 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since school is back in session, families are usually the ones leaving the park during this time.


The weather in the park is expected to be favorable throughout September.

The high temperature is expected to reach 68 degrees Fahrenheit during this period. To take advantage of the cool weather, it’s recommended to bike to the park.


Although the weather in the park is expected to be dry, it’s still enjoyable to visit this month.

However, since there’s a chance of snow, it’s essential to dress appropriately.

On the other hand, big crowds are almost gone by November, so there’s plenty of space to explore.


The weather in the park is expected to be cold and snow-filled throughout December.

The high temperature will be above freezing, while the low temperature will be around 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bison can be seen roaming around the park during the winter season. To avoid getting frostbite, it’s essential to wear warm clothes and carry sturdy boots.

Best Time to Visit Badlands National Park

The best time to visit Badlands National Park is during the shoulder seasons. The weather can be favourable during the late May and early June months.

The park experiences a hot climate during the summer season and large crowds. However, between Labor Day and early October, the park experiences pleasant temperatures and fewer people.

Popular Events in Badlands National Park

In addition to regular events, the park also has special programs that allow people to explore the area and learn more about various subjects such as geology, astronomy, and wildlife.

One of the most popular attractions in the park is the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, which is open year-round. This facility features interactive exhibits and an educational film.

Before heading out on a hike or drive, it’s always a good idea to stop by the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to better understand what’s happening in the area.

During this time, park rangers can give you a glimpse of the animals commonly seen in the area.

The South Unit of the park is also accessible year-round. During this time, visitors can drive around the perimeter drive and explore the various areas within the park.

On the other hand, tourists can go through the Sage Creek Rim Road or the nearby Badlands Loop Road to see wildlife.

During the summer, the park’s Fossil Preparation Lab is also accessible to the public. This facility allows people to get a closer look at the working fossils of various species.

During the spring, the Cedar Pass Amphitheatre can also be used for astronomy lessons. These programs last for around 30 to 90 minutes.

In addition, volunteers from the park’s astronomy department will provide information about the night sky.

Busiest Months at the Badlands National Park

Although the park doesn’t experience too many overcrowding issues, the summer season can be hectic due to the number of people visiting during this period. This is because many families visit the area and are off from school.

Due to the increase in sightseers, this season might not be the best time to visit Badlands National Park if you’re not a fan of crowds.

 It’s also best to see the park during the shoulder seasons, from April through June and September through November.

If you’re planning on visiting the park during the summer season, make sure to check out the trails early.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Badlands National Park?

The fee for a private vehicle is $30 for the 7-day stay. For an individual, the cost is $15 for the 7-day holiday.

The cost for a motorcycle is $25 for a 7-day visit, while the cost for a commercial sedan is $25. The price for a commercial motorcoach is $150 for seven days. It can accommodate up to 26 passengers.

Camping at Badlands National Park

Camping in a national park is a life-changing experience and can help you stay in touch with nature.

In the park, you can choose to spend the night at one of the campsites in Cedar Pass, Sage Creek, or the other park’s campsites.

These campsites are ideal for people looking to watch the sunset and get up early to enjoy the sunrise.

The campsites in the park are not required to have reservations. This means that if you’re planning on camping in the park, you don’t have to book a reservation in advance.

This is a good thing, as it allows spontaneous people to go camping whenever they want.

Ensure you’re at the campground early enough to avoid being turned back due to overcrowding.

Although the campsites in the park usually get full, they can only accommodate a maximum of 14 days.

Sage Creek Campground, Badlands National Park

The Sage Creek Campground is located in the North Unit, close to the park’s western boundary.

This area is known for its primitive camping. If you’re planning on visiting the site near the wilderness, be prepared to encounter a bison.

The Sage Creek campground is accessed via an unpaved road and only has a limited turnaround for larger recreational vehicles.

This area is accessible to camp, and there is no water on this campground. There are also pit toilets at the campground.

See Also: Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park

Backcountry Camping at Badlands National Park

If you’re looking for a more primitive camping experience away from the Sage Creek campground, you might want to consider a trip to the backcountry.

You don’t need a permit to camp in the area, but you need to speak with a staff member about the rules and regulations of this type of camping.

If you’re planning on camping in the area, make sure that you wear sturdy shoes and avoid getting twisted ankles. These types of injuries can severely affect your enjoyment and companions.

You cannot have a fire in the park, and pets are not allowed in the wilderness, trails, or backcountry.

To avoid attracting unwelcome animals, you should set up camp at least 0.5 from the road and trail.

It would help if you also carried all of your refuse, such as used toilet paper, as it can end up on the ground.

The best time to visit the park for backpacking is in September and October. However, it’s also possible to find camping in the park during other times of the year.

Cedar Pass Campground

The Cedar Pass campground is located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center in the park’s heart. Over 90 sites at this location enjoy amazing views of the park.

The campsites at Cedar Pass charge $15 a night, while those with electric hook-ups are priced at $28.

There are also flush toilets, a dump station, and picnic tables. In addition, burning wood is prohibited in the park.

In addition, campers are allowed to use camp stoves and charcoal grills in the picnic areas and campsites. However, make sure that the charcoal has been thoroughly cooled before disposal.