Eroded rock formations at Badlands National Park.

©Mark Read/Lonely Planet

Badlands National Park

Top choice in South Dakota

Pinnacled rock formations with vivid color bands, sharp-edged cliffs with tiptoeing bighorn sheep, and sprawling colonies of feverish prairie dogs are just a few of the images you'll find in South Dakota's most storied national park. Incredibly user-friendly, nearly all of its top sights lie along the 40-mile Badlands Loop Rd.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby South Dakota attractions

2. Hwy 240 Badlands Loop Rd

9.09 MILES

Badlands National Park's North Unit gets the most visitors; this stunning road is easily reached from I-90 (exits 110 and 131) and you can drive it in an…

3. Delta-09 Missile Silo

16.81 MILES

This Cold War–era missile silo, located down a dirt road in a desolate area 5 miles southeast of Wall, gives you a glimpse into the enormous network of…

4. Buffalo Gap National Grassland

20.89 MILES

This nature reserve surrounds the Badlands and together they protect the country's largest prairie grasslands, several species of Great Plains mammal …

5. Story of Wounded Knee

22.33 MILES

This important small museum tells the story of the Wounded Knee massacre from the Lakota perspective using photos and narratives. It's more insightful…

6. Wall Drug

22.67 MILES

Wall Drug is a surprisingly enjoyable tourist attraction of the old school. It really does have 5¢ coffee, free ice water, good donuts and enough…

7. Sage Creek Rim Rd

25.08 MILES

The portion of the Badlands west of Hwy 240 along this gravel road is much less visited than the sights of the Badlands Loop Rd. There are scenic…