Cedar Pass Campground: Where to Camp at Badlands National Park

Last summer, on our family’s EPIC “Frontier Trip,” we had the chance to enjoy Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park. Summer is HOT in Badlands, but the day was overcast, the weather was pleasant, and the campground was lovely.

As Badland National Park’s larger, more amenity-rich campground, we highly recommend you slow down to enjoy the park and speed up to reserve your campsite!

Cedar Pass Campground where to camp at Badlands National Park

Where is Badlands National Park and Cedar Pass Campground?

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota, United States. It spans across an area of mesmerizing landscapes. These “Badlands” are characterized by rugged terrain, dramatic canyons, unique rock formations, and extensive prairies.

Badlands is somewhat remote due to its location away from major cities. The park’s expansive wilderness and natural beauty contribute to its remote feel.

While the park is accessible by road and relatively close to Interstate 90, the surrounding area lacks significant urban development. This offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in a more secluded and wild environment.

As for Cedar Pass Campground, you will find it in the highly trafficked, southeast corner of Badlands National Park. Conveniently, it is located near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, one of our favorite visitor centers for kids.

Badlands is surrounded by Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Visitors can access Cedar Pass Campground from the Northeast Entrance off of Interstate 90 or the, scenic, Interior Entrance off of SD 377.

We used the latter which is most convenient and beautiful for those travelling from the Mount Rushmore or Keystone, South Dakota region.

PRO TIP: Cedar Pass Campground is right inside the Interior Entrance, so it is very important that you know that the town of Interior DOES have a gas station and a small convenience store. They are your closest gas and food options to the campground.

Why should families camp at Cedar Pass Campground?

Camping at Badlands National Park offers families a remarkable opportunity to immerse themselves in nature and create unforgettable experiences:

  1. Scenic Campgrounds: The park offers picturesque campgrounds nestled amidst stunning landscapes, providing families with beautiful views and a chance to connect with nature.
  2. Stargazing: The park’s remote location and minimal light pollution make it an excellent spot for stargazing. Families can witness breathtaking night skies, sparking curiosity and awe among kids.
  3. Outdoor Adventures: Camping allows families to explore hiking trails, take scenic drives, and discover unique rock formations. Camping INSIDE the park allows you access to the less-crowded times of day when crowds are gone and you can connect with your stunning surroundings.
  4. Educational Opportunities: Families can learn about the park’s diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and geological formations. When camping inside of the park, you can observe wildlife and natural features that day visitors are likely to miss.
  5. Bonding Time: Camping fosters family bonding through shared activities like campfires, cooking meals, and storytelling. Make your family memories at a national park, and know that the unique setting will always be a part of the stories!

Overall, camping at Badlands National Park offers families a chance to disconnect from the daily grind, immerse themselves in nature’s beauty, and create cherished moments that will be remembered for years to come.

What are the two, developed campgrounds inside of Badlands National Park?

In Badlands National Park, there are two main campgrounds available for visitors:

  1. Cedar Pass Campground: This is the primary campground within the park and offers tent and RV camping options. It’s located near the Cedar Pass Lodge and the park’s largest visitor center. Cedar Pass Campground provides basic amenities such as potable water, flush toilets, picnic tables, and stunning views of the surrounding Badlands formations.
  2. Sage Creek Campground: This campground offers a more primitive camping experience and is situated in the western part of the park. It’s a no-fee campground, suitable for tent camping and small RVs (no hookups available). Sage Creek Campground provides vault toilets and offers a more remote and rugged camping setting, often frequented by those seeking a quieter and more rustic experience amidst the park’s wilderness.

Both campgrounds offer unique experiences, with Cedar Pass Campground providing more amenities and a central location. In contrast, Sage Creek Campground offers a more remote and natural setting for camping enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the park’s wilderness.

What to Know about Camping at Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park

Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park offers a special experience amongst the Badlands. Be sure you are aware of these points:

Reservations and Availability:

Cedar Pass Campground is open from April through mid-October each year. The campground is run by the concessionaire, Aramark, and can be made from their website.

While I did not find information about when reservations open, I checked in November prior to the following summer season, and the entire season of site reservations were already available to book. Like most national park campgrounds, I highly suggest that you book as soon as you are confident in your dates of travel.

Cedar Pass Campground where to camp at Badlands National Park

Campground and Campsite Amenities:

Cedar Pass Campground includes optional electrical hookups. As noted below, these sites are slightly more expensive than the non-electric campsites. Sites with electricity offer both 30 amp and 50 amp hookups.

*No campsites offer water or sewer hookups.

There is a dump station nearby that charges $1 per dump. Water is also available nearby.

The campground includes flushing toilets and pay showers.

Sites include picnic tables and spectacular views.

Fires are not allowed in Badlands National Park; however, you may use your own propane grills for cooking.

The NPS amphitheater is within walking distance. The Cedar Pass Lodge and Restaurant are near the campground, but you will likely prefer to drive there as I did not see any short path to those facilities.

How much does it cost to stay at Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park:

Campsites with electrical hookups cost $42 per night. Campsites without electricity cost $28 per night.


Pets are allowed in the campground but must be kept on a leash at all times. Ensure pets are not left unattended and follow pet waste regulations.

Weather Consideration:

Be prepared for weather changes, as the region experiences extreme temperature fluctuations, especially during summer and winter months.

Leave No Trace:

Visitors are kindly asked to respect the park’s natural beauty by adhering to Leave No Trace principles. Review these principles before your visit.

Camping at Cedar Pass Campground offers a chance to immerse yourself in the unique landscapes of Badlands National Park, providing a rustic and scenic setting for a memorable outdoor adventure.

Prepare for your stay at Cedar Pass Campground!

The nearest groceries to Badlands National Park are typically found in Wall, South Dakota. Wall offers several grocery stores, gas stations, and dining options, making it a convenient stop for provisions before entering or leaving the park.

Recall that the town closest to Cedar Pass Campground, Interior, does have a convenient store with very limited offerings.

It’s advisable to stock up on groceries and supplies before heading into the park for convenience, as services within the park itself are limited.

Cedar Pass Campground where to camp at Badlands National Park

Can’t miss family fun at Badlands National Park

There’s a range of family-friendly activities at Badlands National Park that you just can’t miss:

  1. Fossil Exhibit Trail: Take the family on the Fossil Exhibit Trail, an easy and educational hike featuring interpretive exhibits about the park’s ancient fossils. Kids can learn about the creatures that roamed the area millions of years ago.
  2. Junior Ranger Program: Enroll the kids in the Junior Ranger Program, where they can complete fun activities, explore the park, and learn about nature and history while earning a Junior Ranger badge.
  3. Wildlife Viewing: Keep an eye out for wildlife such as bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and various bird species while exploring the park. Kids will love spotting these animals in their natural habitat, especially the too-cool-for-school prarie dog towns!
  4. Night Sky Observation: Experience the wonders of the night sky by stargazing at the park. With minimal light pollution, it’s an ideal spot for kids to marvel at the stars and learn about constellations.
  5. Ranger Programs: Attend ranger-led programs and talks that cater to families, providing insights into the park’s geology, wildlife, and history through engaging activities.

These activities offer a mix of education, exploration, and outdoor fun, ensuring an enjoyable and memorable experience for families visiting Badlands National Park.

Cedar Pass Campground where to camp at Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is a special place with rare educational opportunities and extensive hiking adventures. It is a joy to bring children to this park and witness their delight in the history and its mysterious “Badlands.”

So reserve your campsite early, and make some family memories while staying at the beloved, Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park!