Cedar Pass Campground – Badlands National Park – South Dakota

Cedar Pass campground is a great place to stay if you are visiting Badlands National Park.  On the Southeast Corner of the park it offers a great base of operations for RV and tent campers alike to explore the Badlands.  It is also not far from Wall Drug, a famed I-90 landmark.

Since it was mid-July there were lots of kids visiting – both with their families and in larger groups.  However, everyone behaved well and quieted down allowing us to get to sleep easily.  The tent sites were spacious and – while a bit of a stroll from the restrooms – a pleasure to use.  One thing worth noting is that this campground did not offer showers, so after a few days of Badlands heat expect to get a little fragrant!

The campground is located very near to both the Cedar Pass Lodge – a more high falluting establishment – and also the Park visitor center.  This means that by staying there you have easy access to ranger provided entertainment such as the nightly introduction to the park, which is presented in a rather cool amphitheater set amidst impressive rock formations.  Also offered – though not on the night I visited – are astronomy shows where they provide telescopes to really take advantage of the dark skies in the region.

Touring the Badlands rim road is a must to truly appreciate the combination of erosion and geology that makes the park so spectacular.  Just take the drive slowly as some of the curves on the roadway can be a little intimidating for those not used to mountain driving.

Also, if you are in decent shape be sure to explore the Door trail just down the road from the visitor center.  Follow the wooded trail to see some truly spectacular terrain at the end.  The park provides yellow markers that let you descend into the depths of the badlands, it is quite a thrill picking out a path amongst the undulating topography.  Quite unlike any walk I have ever done, and while not exceptionally difficult, the experience should not be missed.

While we only spent one night there, if I were to return I would stay two or three nights and more thoroughly explore the park.  There are some longer walks – 5 miles or more – that I would to complete on a future stay.

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