Planning Your Time
Badlands National Park is divided into two units: the North Unit and the Stronghold District, or South Unit, which includes the Palmer Creek area.
Getting to the North Unit of Badlands National Park is an easy day trip from Rapid City or a great detour on the I-90 drive across the state on a trip to the Black Hills. Keep in mind, however, that viewing a sunset or sunrise in the park is one of the peak experiences of a visit. While accommodations are limited, there are primitive campsites and a lodge within the park boundaries.
The town of Interior, located at the southern edge of the North Unit of the park, has limited accommodations. The town of Wall, located eight miles north of the Pinnacles Entrance on the north side of the park, has several accommodations and restaurants.
If you are not planning on an overnight stay, try to spend at least 3–4 hours in the park. And for lovers of roadside attractions, Wall Drug, in the town of Wall, deserves at least an hour or two of your time.
The Stronghold District of Badlands National Park is on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is co-managed by the Park Service and the Oglala Sioux tribe. This area, with the exception of Sheep Mountain Table, is not accessible by road and there is a lot of private land interspersed with the park lands.
The Palmer Creek Unit is accessible for backcountry hiking only and in order to reach it, visitors must get permission to cross private property. A list of property owners is maintained at the White River Visitor Center, which also has other information about the Southern Unit of the park.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition