In a move calculated to save money and maximize the amount available for important projects and improvements to visitor services, Badlands National Park will stop accepting cash on its entrance gates next month.
Instead, Badlands will switch to a cashless fee system — accepting only mobile or electronic payments for entrance and permit fees, according to the National Park Service.
Importantly, visitors can also purchase Badlands entrance passes here.
or through the Recreation.gov app. In those cases, visitors can either store the digital pass on their mobile device or print it in advance.
“Entrance fees are an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience in national parks, including road and facility repairs and maintenance, trail improvements, installation of accessible exhibits, visitor and resource protection services, and more,” the National Park Service explains. “Moving to a cashless system allows parks to be better stewards of visitor dollars by reducing the amount of time park staff spend managing cash, increasing the amount of fee revenue available to support critical projects and visitor services, and improving accountability and reducing risk.”
What You Need To Know About Badlands
Badlands National Park, 75 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota, is known for its towering rock formations as well as canyon complexes and the famous Badlands Wall.
The most popular activities at the 244,000-acre park include hiking, camping, bicycling, and watching the park’s mule deer, antelope, and prairie dogs. Plus, given its remote location, stargazers attending the park’s astronomy events are in for a treat.
Finally, many people simply enjoy driving along Badlands’ most popular road: Badlands Loop Road, also known as Highway 240. That’s because they can see the park’s beautiful landscapes, stop at informational exhibits, watch for wildlife, and maybe enjoy a spectacular sunset or sunrise.
Now, about that name.
The Lakota people called the area now known as Badlands National Park mako sica, which translates to “bad lands,” according to the National Park Service.
“The Badlands presents many challenges to easy travel. When it rains in the Badlands, the wet clay becomes slick and sticky, making it very difficult to cross. The jagged canyons and buttes that cover the landscape also make it hard to navigate,” the National Park Service continues. “The winters are cold and windy, the summers are hot and dry, and the few water sources that exist are normally muddy and unsafe to drink. These factors make the land difficult to survive in, and evidence of early human activity in the Badlands points to seasonal hunting rather than permanent habitation.”
You can learn more about popular activities at Badlands at its Things To Do webpage.
Know Before You Go
Park fees at Badlands for a private vehicle are $30. That fee covers the vehicle and its occupants for 7 days.
The entrance fee for individual hiking or bicycling into the park is $15. Again, that fee covers the individual for 7 days.
Visitors can also purchase an annual pass for Badlands National Park, which costs $55.
Alternatively, an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which covers entrance fees at National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife sites, costs $80.
You can find all the details about fees and passes for Badlands and other national parks at Badlands’ Fees & Passes.
For more about the park, be sure to also read all of our Badlands National Park content, including: