Backcountry camping in the Badlands allows the traveler to be faced with peace, serenity and a firsthand look at the dynamics of nature. But before you venture into the wilderness, here are a few things to know:
- Permits are not currently required for overnight stays in the Badlands backcountry. However, before camping, contact a staff member at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center or Pinnacles Entrance Station for more information. Backcountry registers are located at the Medicine/Castle Trail Loop, Saddle Pass Trailhead, Conata Picnic Area, Sage Creek Basin Overlook, and the Sage Creek Campground.
- Topography maps are strongly recommended and are available in the Badlands Natural History Association Bookstore.
- Watch your footing and wear proper footwear, the park is home to many burrowing animals.
- Campfires are not allowed under any circumstance.
- Pets are NOT permitted on trails, in backcountry, or wilderness areas.
- The location of your campsite must be at least half of a mile from any road or trail and cannot be visible from the roadway.
- There is no drinking water available, plan to pack at least a gallon of water a person per day.
- Check the weather forecast, severe thunderstorms are common during the summer, so are days about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- All refuse must be carried out.
Exploring the South Unit
Notify a ranger at the White River Visitor Center if you are interested in backcountry hiking or camping in the South Unit. Some of this area is private land, and explorers must often cross this to reach public land. Always obtain permission from landowners for vehicular or foot access before setting out for Cuny Table, Stronghold Table, and Palmer Creek. Hikers in the South Unit must be experienced map readers, plan on a minimum of two days to hike in and out of the remote Palmer Creek area. Be prepared to have alternative destinations if land owners do not grant permission to cross their property.
For more information, please call the White River Visitor Center at 605-455-2878