Visiting Badlands National Park with Kids

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How to get to Badlands National Park

Are you planning a trip to Badlands National Park with kids? We have some tips for visiting Badlands with kids! From the best hiking trails to in park accommodations, we have a great Badlands National Park with kids itinerary for you.

Best time to visit Badlands National Park

Weather wise, the best time to visit Badlands National Park is in the summer. But it’s also the busiest time with crowded trails and more expensive hotels. We visited in mid June, before the official start of summer and when many US schools were still in session so the weather was perfect but the crowds were not here yet.

While you can technically visit Baldands in the winter months, this area gets very cold and snowy and it can be hard to drive without the right type of vehicle. For this reason, I would personally avoid the winter months.

How to get to Badlands National Park

The closest bigger airport to Badlands National Park is RAP in Rapid City, at just under an hour. Badlands National Park was part of our South Dakota road trip with kids, so we started and ended our trip in Rapid City.

Where to stay when visiting Badlands National Park

There are different lodging options right inside of Badlands National Park.

Camping near Badlands National Park

There are two official campgrounds inside of Badlands National Park. The Cedar Pass RV and Campground has 96 sites, some intended for RVs with electrical hookups. You can book these sites online.

The Sage Creek Campground is a first come, first served campground inside Badlands National Park. There are 22 sites here and campers larger than 22 feet are prohibited.

Best family-friendly hotels near Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park has a hotel right inside of the park, the Cedar Pass Lodge. We stayed in a cabin here and it was great. Our cabin was cute with a porch that had chairs, 2 queen beds and lots if space inside.

If you want to see other lodging in nearby towns, check out the interactive map below.

Things to bring when visiting Badlands National Park with kids

  • Hiking shoes: Make sure they have a grippy, no skid bottom since some areas were wet while we were hiking.
  • National Park Journal: We bring ours on every trip! My daughter loves filling it out and putting stamps/stickers from each park.

Books and games about Badlands National Park

Trekking the National Parks

Badlands National Park: A Grande Guide for Kids

National Parks Journal

Things to do in Badlands National Park with kids

There are lots of things to do in Badlands National Park with kids, and the most popular activity is going to be hiking.

Best kid-friendly hiking trail in Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park has some fun trails that your whole family will enjoy. Here are some of our favorite kid friendly hiking trails in Badlands National Park.

  • Door Trail: This 0.75 mile round trip hike features a 0.25 mile accessible boardwalk, where you can bring strollers and wheelchairs.
  • Window Trail: This short (0.25 mile round trip) trail is worth the visit! This trail leads to a natural window which overlooks the canyon.
  • Notch Trail: If you only do one trail, make it this one! The Notch Trail is 1.5 miles round trip and includes a portion where you climb up a log ladder for amazing view of the White River Valley. This is better for older kids since you will be walking along a ledge. Pro tip: Go in the evening. We tried in the afternoon and there was a huge line of people waiting to go up and down. Came back around sunset and we were the only ones there!
  • Fossil Exhibit Trail: This fully accessible 0.25 mile boardwalk trail features fossil replicas of creatures that once roamed the area.
  • Medicine Root Loop: If you’re looking for a longer hike, this 4 mile round trip moderate trail will take you along the prairie. Watch for cacti here, this is probably better for those with older kids!
  • Saddle Pass: This strenuous but short 0.25 mile hike climbs up the Badlands wall with some amazing views of the White River Valley.
  • Castle Trail: This is a fun one with lots of climbing opportunities! The Castle Trail is the longest hike in the park at 10 miles round trip if you hike the entire trail.
notch trail badlands
Notch Trail-A must!
You have to go down the way you went up!

Junior Ranger program in Badlands National Park

Just like all the other National Parks, Badlands National Park has a Junior Ranger program. Be sure to pick up your activity booklet at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center so that your kids can earn their Junior Ranger badge.

Where to eat with kids near Badlands National Park

Cedar Pass Lodge, inside the park, has a restaurant. This is going to be your best bet for grabbing a meal while in Badlands National Park. The food isn’t great and it’s expensive. But there really aren’t many other options unless you bring your own. The buffalo chili was the best part of this meal. Their buffalo burger is so overcooked, it’s super dry.

Very expensive and not great food!

Badlands National Park quickly became one of our favorites! If you’re looking for a fun park that your entire family will enjoy, this is definitely a great option. Want to read this later? Pin one of the images below.

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