Backcountry Camp off the Fossil Trailhead, Badlands NP

Details

Distance

1.2 miles

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Cameron Cech

Visiting or driving through Badlands National Park and have time to spend a night? If you are equipped, do yourself a favor and hike 0.5 mile off this trail and witness one of the most stunning starscapes in the United States while being surrounded by canyons that drown out all sound.

Backcountry camping at Badlands National Park is very easy. While it is recommended that you contact a staff member at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center or Pinnacles Entrance Station, it is not required. As long as you follow the rules, you can camp anywhere in the park at any time. If you do have any questions, visit or stop in at the visitor's center.

There are a few rules to follow - campfires are not allowed under any circumstances. Use a backpacking stove. Pets are not permitted on trails, in backcountry, or wilderness areas. The location of your campsite must be at least 0.5 miles from a road or trail and must not be visible from a roadway. Finally, follow the Leave No Trace Principles.

When you get to the parking lot at the Fossil Exhibit Trailhead, get onto the Fossil Exhibit Trail. It is actually a boardwalk that is rather heavily populated with visitors depending on the time of year. Once you get to the part of the boardwalk furthest from the parking lot, hop off and start the backcountry hike. Don't worry if people look at you funny, it is totally kosher to explore the land.

Where you are starting is the mouth of a large, sharp-peaked canyon. You will hike as far as you can into the canyon to get 0.5 mile away from where you started.

If you have a GPS, the coordinates of the destination are 43.774645, -102.006392.

Pro Tip:Since it is a short hike, you may have time to set up camp, walk back to your car and do some additional exploring. A fantastic, nearby spot to watch the sunset is just south on the main road (Hwy 240) around the corner. There is a pull-off to park and some enormous spines you can walk around on and explore. Warning: there will be a lot of photographers - but for good reason.

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Camping
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Backpacking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Scenic
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Reviews

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ILLEGAL SPOT/IRRESPONSIBLE ARTICLE

Hey everybody, You can’t camp here. It’s actually super uncool that “the outbound” would literally put GPS coordinates for a spot that you certainly can’t camp. You will very likely get kicked out if you try anyway. But the worst part of all of this is how much trash there was back there (likely because of this dumb ass article). If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Incredible

Amazing time. Perfect campsite. Was completely alone in my own canyon ! Highly Highly recommend. I also recommend not driving right through the badlands. Spend some time there it's a hidden gem.

Camping Under The Stars

Absolutely breath taking and worth every second

Awesome Night Views

Out of this world night views. Gets pretty windy at night, but awesome and quiet spot to camp.

323 total saves

4.0/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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