Can You Disperse Camp in Badlands National Park?

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota is a rugged and beautiful landscape of eroded rocks and tall grass prairies. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, pronghorn, black-footed ferrets, and many species of birds.

The park has been designated a National Natural Landmark as well as an International Biosphere Reserve. For those looking to explore this unique area, camping is allowed in the park.

Campers can stay in designated backcountry sites or in frontcountry campgrounds. Backcountry sites are located away from the main roads and trails and require visitors to hike in with their own gear.

These sites are usually more secluded than frontcountry campgrounds, which are located near roadways and have amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings. Backcountry permits are required for overnight stays in backcountry sites.

The Badlands National Park allows dispersed camping throughout the entire park except within the boundaries of the Sage Creek Primitive Area. Dispersed camping is when campers choose their own site outside of a developed campground or recreation site. Dispersed camping must be done at least 300 feet away from any road or trail, but there are no other specific requirements for these types of campsites.

If you’re interested in dispersed camping at Badlands National Park be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and practice responsible outdoor ethics. Make sure to not leave any trace behind including food scraps or litter; use existing fire rings if available; store food properly; bury human waste; leave natural objects undisturbed; keep noise levels down; keep pets leashed; and pack out all trash.


In conclusion, yes you can disperse camp at Badlands National Park as long as you adhere to Leave No Trace principles and practice responsible outdoor ethics while doing so. Keep in mind that dispersed camping is not allowed within the boundaries of the Sage Creek Primitive Area. Additionally, be sure to plan ahead with maps, water sources, weather updates, and plenty of supplies before embarking on your journey into the wild.

Photo of author

Alex Wright