Your Guide to Badlands Loop Road

June 6, 2024

Outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, campers and nature photographers can all enjoy Badlands Loop Road. This scenic drive includes several locations you can explore along the miles of land. Beautiful wildlife, unique animals and amazing natural views make this a top spot for tourists.

Whether you want to explore the great outdoors from the comfort of your car or get up close and personal with some outdoor adventures, this is one place you should definitely add to your bucket list.

What Is Badlands Loop Road?

Badlands Loop Road is located in South Dakota. This scenic route offers amazing views from the comfort of your car, and there are many places you can stop to explore nature or take awe-inspiring photos. Native grasslands, massive rock formations and many species of exciting plants litter the road, providing many opportunities for exploration or relaxation.

Throughout the journey, you can find more than 10 different overlooks, some perfect for picnicking, some ideal for stargazing and all amazing for taking photos. You can also enjoy multiple hiking trails and curvy passes that sports car and motorcycle enthusiasts love to navigate. Plus, multiple educational displays dot the road, so you can learn more about the Badlands and past life.

Any type of motor vehicle can drive this road, as it has two paved lanes. Badlands Loop Road is open to anyone, but drivers should be aware of the several steep passes and note the speed limit changes. This area is very popular, so always park in designated spaces and watch for hikers, tourists and other people.

A car winds its way through the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

How Long Does Badlands Loop Road Take?

Badlands Loop Road is more than 30 miles long. It can take about an hour to drive the entire length of the road without stops. Most people traveling on Badlands Loop Road will stop at least once or twice to enjoy the natural sights, so you could take hours to explore this beautiful stretch of land. During certain times of the year, typically in the summer, you can also participate in seasonal events to fill part of your day.

Although you could travel the span of the road without interruptions, stopping to admire ancient sites, photograph beautiful landscapes, and interact with locals or other visitors can truly transform your experience. Hiking trails span for miles, with some as small as 6 miles round trip and others more than 20 miles, offering hours of fun. Depending on your activities, you could spend the entire day at Badlands Loop Road and still not explore every inch.

Where Are the Best Photo Spots on Badlands Loop Road?

You can choose among the various overlooks for scenic views, and each has a unique charm that will make a lasting impression. A map of Badlands Loop Road can highlight all the unique places you might want to visit, but be sure to dress appropriately and pack the proper gear for walking through the many paths.

Although any spot you choose will be rewarding, here you can find some of the most popular spots. Check out these overlooks:

  • Big Foot Pass: This overlook is a historic site with sharp peaks and an elegant glow. The light can transform your view, so going at different times of the day means you can see the natural views in a new way each time. Low light emphasizes the dramatic shapes of the natural backdrop, making it a perfect spot to take photos. This overlook also features a picnic area, so you can stop for a snack. It is also pet-friendly if you are traveling with your pup.
  • Homestead Overlook: Homestead Overlook provides an amazing view of the flatter plains in the Badlands. This location allows visitors to see the Badlands and the prairie, making it an ideal spot for capturing several unique photos without needing to travel far.
  • Ancient Hunters: Travelers can enjoy an archeological site at Ancient Hunters Overlook. Along with the beautiful natural sight, you can find bison bones and arrowheads, signs of an ancient civilization and what may have been a butcher site.
  • Big Badlands: Big Badlands is one of the most popular sites for photographs. This spot is amazing for watching the sunrise and capturing an elegant glow over the massive rock formations. This overlook is a short distance from the park’s Northeast Entrance Station, making it a fantastic starting point for anyone looking to spend the day in nature.
  • White River Valley: If you want a generous view of the valley, this overlook is the place to go. White River Valley offers several paths, each providing a unique and gorgeous view of the surrounding land. This overlook is further into the Badlands, so you will need to prepare for a walk. The cliffs can be fragile, and the ground might be wet during your adventure, so take extra precautions when hiking this trail. However, the view makes the trek well worth the effort.
  • Prairie Wind: Prairie Wind is another unique location along Badlands Loop Road. This spot showcases the mixed-grass prairie, complete with tall grass, short grass and mixed grass. This is an incredibly peaceful location where you can listen to the wind rushing through the rolling grasslands as you almost forget about how close you are to massive rock formations and vastly different landscapes.
  • Burns Basin and Panoramic Point: Burns Basin is a short journey away from Panoramic Point, another hot spot for tourists and photographers. While Panoramic Point offers incredible views of the south and southeast, Burns Basin captures the south and southwest. Panoramic Point also offers a boardwalk trail, so you can easily navigate the path.
  • Pinnacles Overlook: This overlook is one of the best spots to capture the sunset. Pinnacles offers a westward view, and you can capture more greenery and wildlife than in some of the other locations. Several steps lead you from the parking lot to the sweeping scene.

Plan Your Badlands National Park Camping Trip and Stay at KOA

Kampgrounds of America can transform your experience in the great outdoors. Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway, peaceful places to rest for the night or a long escape with your closest friends and family, you can find everything you need at a KOA Campground. Camping at KOA empowers you to choose among various ways to stay, with options from traditional tent adventures to glamorous camping experiences that blend the luxuries of home with the adventurous nature of outdoor exploration. Whether you need a site for your RV or want to relax with unique amenities, KOA has you covered.

Plan your trip to the Badlands Loop Road with KOA. Whether you are planning a family trip or a solo escape, KOA is the perfect place to make lasting memories. Book with the Badlands / White River KOA Holiday to explore these stunning landscapes from a comfortable stay.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting

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