bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Badlands National Park

We visited Badlands in May 2016 during Big Trip #1.

dog at badlands national park

We moved an hour east to a little campground in Interior, SD, for a night to more easily access Badlands National Park than we could from Custer. Interior is a funny little town with not much to offer, but that was ok because our campsite was incredible and we wanted to spend our time hanging out there instead of in town.


badlands view from campground interior sd
airstream in interior sd
dog at campground in interior sd

Badlands Interior Campground itself is nothing special: it’s tucked behind a little hotel, with a tiny (not yet open) pool, and wifi that doesn’t reach far beyond the office. The camp store shelves were pretty bare and the (also not yet open) restaurant looked like a storage room. The place was mostly empty, and we got a site at the end of the row with views to die for. The scenery at our picnic table had a horse pasture in the foreground and the Badlands in the background. The National Park entrance is a mile down the highway, and “downtown” Interior is a couple blocks away.

Another potentially great option: There is an RV campground just inside the entrance to the National Park, so even closer to the Badlands backdrop, that looked gorgeous, but it only offers power and we needed full hookups.

Eating and Drinking

sioux indian taco at badlands national park

Pickings are slim in Interior. The campground office had a few menus on display and the only one that seemed remotely interesting was the restaurant located in the National Park by the visitor center. We picked up lunch to go and ate it at an overlook in the park. We got the Sioux Indian Tacos, because who doesn’t love a giant pile of slop? Well, we don’t. After eating most of our tacos and enjoying them less and less, we decided the experience was strike two for frybread tacos and vowed to never order them again!

wagon wheel bar interior sd
view from campground interior sd

There was one bar open in Interior the day we were in town, so we went for a beer to at least experience something in the town and not just blow through. The Wagon Wheel Bar is a dive, in a hilarious way, staffed by a friendly barkeep and decorated with old-timey beer memorabilia. We only stayed for one beer because we were the only customers and it was too quiet, and because the beer selection was lacking. It was fun, but drinking our own Colorado beer at the picnic table looking at the beautiful scenery by our trailer was way better.

Badlands National Park

dog at badlands national park
dog at badlands national park
beware of rattlesnakes at badlands national park
dog at badlands national park
badlands national park
badlands national park
badlands national park
dog at badlands national park

Badlands is wild and windy and totally gorgeous. The park is long and narrow and didn’t offer any hiking options that fit our requirements (being a National Park, it’s not dog-friendly; the short hikes were very short and the longer hikes were too long for our dog-care schedule) so we drove the scenic drive, stopping at many of the overlooks and running around taking pictures. We would have loved to have been able to go for a long hike into the interior of the crazy little rainbow sherbetty humps and peaks. Next time!

Wall Drug

wall drug

The scenic drive through the park dumps you near Wall, SD, home of Wall Drug, America’s favorite roadside attraction (according to them). Have you heard of it? Apparently, there are over 3,000 “How Many Miles to Wall Drug?” signs around the world, and we’d seen our fair share driving around out West. We felt compelled to check it out, and didn’t really get it. It’s basically a giant shopping center full of people and selling crap. What did we miss? Glad we didn’t go out of the way to see it!


5 responses to “Badlands National Park”

  1. Uncle Jim Avatar
    Uncle Jim

    You’re beginning to sound a little cranky young lady. Guess its a good thing you came home. And what’s with the beer problem in Interior. They had Hamm’s.. What more could you possibly ask for????

  2. […] left South Dakota early, anxious to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so drove as far as our sanity could […]

  3. Elizabeth Avatar

    Five years later and they’re still serving those horrible microwaved Indian tacos at the Badlands lodge restaurant! I was pretty appalled by the limited food choices there…but I guess for a lot of people, this is a drive-through park…which fortunately made our one substantial hike there (Medicine Root trail) nice and empty. Such a gorgeous place. Also, I know it’s not your style but for others: the cabins there at Cedar Pass are nice. Recently updated I think and very comfortable for a one-night stay (with a crappy dinner).

    1. bugsy Avatar

      Elizabeth!!! It looks like you’re on an amazing trip! Where else are you headed out that way?

      1. Elizabeth Avatar

        Already back, but we also did Wind Cave NP, though not the cave bc the wait was too long. Two nice unpopulated trails there, though. And Custer and Custer SP, which was unexpectedly nice! I meant to check your blog before we left but didn’t have a chance…so doing it retroactively! Keep traveling and writing! I enjoy it.

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