Drive the Sage Creek Rim Road

Interior, South Dakota

based on 5 reviews


Added by Joe Whitson

This Badlands National Park drive is one of the best place to see wildlife like bison, pronghorns, and prairie dogs in the park. Enjoy overlooks at some of the most scenic areas of the park.

A labyrinth of gullies, hoodoos, and ravines, Badlands National Park in western South Dakota is a welcome break from the unrelenting flatness of the surrounding prairie. The remote park is also a paradise for backcountry hikers and campers who really want to escape the crowds and explore wilderness far from trails and roads. With a famously dark night sky perfect for stargazing, easy to see wildlife like bison and big horn sheep, and a desolate, but fascinating landscape, Badlands is a must visit park if you find yourself in the area.

The Sage Creek Road begins where the Badlands Loop, and the pavement, ends. The dirt road hugs the dramatic drop off separating the South Dakota prairie from the alien landscape below. The best place to see bison, take the road slow, keeping an eye out for the animals on both sides. Stop at expansive Robert's Prairie Dog Town to hear hundreds of prairie dogs chirping at your approach and take lunch at the grassy Hay Butte overlook.

The park has an open backcountry policy, so don't be shy about taking some time to get off the road completely and clambering around. Just watch out for rattlesnakes! This section of the park can easily be done in a day, but there is a remote campground with a few amenities at Sage Creek is you want to stay the night.

Unless you already live in the area, consider combining this trip with a jaunt to the nearby Black Hills and Mount Rushmore or even head over to Yellowstone National Park and make it a true roadtrip.

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Picnic Area

Drive the Sage Creek Rim Road Reviews

I think what’s most important to note is that the scenery of the Sage Creek Rim Rd is very different from the Badlands Loop. The Badlands Loop has the typical butte formations you imagine when you think of the park. Meanwhile the Rim Rd is mainly grasslands and rolling hills. This area has a lot of large grazers like bison and pronghorns. The road is dirt and can be very bumpy but it is a lot less trafficked.

Check out the many viewpoints along the rim road and make sure to doing some hiking along the way. As noted in the description you will likely see pronghorn and bighorn sheep as well as prairie dogs.

The Badlands in general feel like you leave earth, but I'd say this drive is the most scenic of the park. Take your time, don't be afraid to stop and get out of the car for photos (although you should watch for rattlesnakes). It's a beautiful drive during sunset, especially.

This is an amazing drive with many oportunities for photography and hiking.

This was a great and fun drive. There is a lot of wildlife along the drive and endless overlooks of the badlands.

Leave No Trace

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


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In the Mount Rushmore state, travels to South Dakota are full of one-of-a-kind adventure with wide-open spaces as endless as the horizons. Between legendary landscapes and scenic drives, you can always find space that shifts life into park. When you’re ready, go great places.

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