This post is a part of my Black Hills Road Trip Series
There are plenty of things to do in the Badlands.
Badlands National Park is an easy one hour drive from nearby Rapid City, South Dakota, making it the perfect day trip to take on your Mount Rushmore vacation. You’re sure to enjoy it for its striking geological features — but you’ll more than likely just spend the day making really “bad” puns.
Or at least, that’s how I spent my day.
Here are my Top 5 Things To Do in the Badlands
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Drive the Highway 240 Badlands Loop Road
This is first on the list of things to do in the Badlands because everything else should happen while you’re driving on this road. As you can see, Highway 240 forms a nice loop through the park, giving you a great survey of all it has to offer.
If you are coming on Interstate 90 from Rapid City, my recommendation would be to drive past the exit for Highway 240 in Wall, South Dakota and instead drive to exit 131, so you can stop at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center at the beginning of your loop, instead of the end.
The loop drive is very scenic, offering many opportunities for photography and hiking stops.
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Check out the Ben Reifel Visitor Center
While the main attraction in the Badlands are the gorgeous rock formations themselves, don’t miss out on learning the fascinating history of the area at the visitor center! The exhibits focus on the cultural history of both the native tribes and later residents, local prairie ecology, and even paleontology (South Dakota is big on dinosaurs, don’t you know.)
You’ll also learn how the Badlands got their name, and there’s even informative movies and ranger talks if you stop by at the right time of day.
It’s all a great place to go to the bathroom.
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Go Gopher Hunting
Okay, not like actual hunting, but be on the lookout for the cute little guys, as well as other wildlife around the park. When I visited during the winter, they were a little pudgy still from all their pre-snow snacking and were having a pretty hard time moving their chunky little bodies around.
My sister and I actually saw a few gophers get stuck trying to wiggle out the entrance to their tunnel. It looked like a cartoon and was definitly one of our favorite things to do in the Badlands.
(Don’t worry, they eventually pried themselves free. It just took a looooot of effort.)
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Hike a Trail
One of the best things to do in the Badlands is just to lose yourself in nature and go exploring! Don’t get too lost, though. I have a feeling recovering a body from one of the ravines might put a damper on the general cool vibes of the place.
There are many trails ready for you to conquer, from steep hikes to paved pathways, so no matter your ability level, there’s a place in the Badlands for you!
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Make Bad Puns
You might think I included this because I could only think of four things to do in the Badlands and thought that five things sounded like a way better title…and you know what, you might be correct, but hey, if you don’t spend the majority of your family vacation to South Dakota making bad puns about the Badlands and cracking each other up, is it even worth going?
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