Visiting Badlands | Motorcycle Ride from Sturgis

Welcome to The Badlands.

The name Badlands holds mystery, intrigue, and definitely a degree of intimidation.

It’s easy to wonder what makes this land so bad that it earned such an ominous name.

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Badlands National Park was named many years ago by the Lakota people.

The difficult terrain, lack of nearby water, and temperature extremes proved that the land truly was ‘mako sico’ or ‘bad land’.

The sun and wind’s effect on eroding this landscape makes it as beautiful as it is harsh.

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The Badlands are filled with an array of different landscapes – from open prairie fields to vast desert canyons.

After a fresh rain, the vivid colors shine through the landscape, surrounding by lush greenery.

The 30-mile stretch of Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) is an experience like no other.

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As you enter the Badlands, you’ll experience the ride through the giant, colorful sandbox that is Badlands National Park.

Be sure to bring your National Park Pass (or have money ready to cover the entry fee).

Plan to stop at Ben Reifel Visitor Center to check out the maps of trails and overlooks.

The visitor center also holds information about the park, museum exhibits, and activities.

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Badlands at sunset


Trip Summary for Badlands (from Wall, SD)

Trip Distance – 60 miles

Time – 2-3 hours to allow for stops (longer if hiking the trails)

Highlights – Large buttes, canyons, pinnacles, open prairie land, wildlife, hiking trails, fossils, visitor center

Riding Skill Level – Easy to Intermediate (Interstate Highway)

Max Elevation – 3,294 feet

Min Elevation – 2,280 feet

Tips for this ride

  • STAY HYDRATED. The sun hits differently in the Badlands. The area has desert-like qualities. Stock up on water and electrolytes for your ride. Keep in mind that elevation plays into your ability to stay hydrated – if you are used to living at sea level, you may need to drink extra to maintain hydration.
  • Go early. Tourists frequent this popular road. Heading out before 9am will allow you to experience this unique landscape with less traffic and lower temperatures.
  • Sunscreen is a must. You’re riding through a large sandbox – plan for similar sun protection to that of a day at the beach.
  • Stop at the overlooks. There are some amazing views of the expansive Badlands landscapes at the pull-offs and parking areas. Take your time and enjoy these points of interest.
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife (we saw an actual buffalo stampede when we were there!) You may also see coyote, prairie dogs, antelope, rattlesnakes, and bighorn sheep.
  • As always, ride your ride and stay alert for other riders, tourists, and wildlife. The Badlands are open for RVing and you will encounter many campers and families on this loop. Wildlife is abundant. Ride safe and enjoy!

Nearby Rides & Attractions

Downtown Wall, South Dakota is the perfect place to grab fuel, food, and browse for Badlands souvenirs.

The famous Wall Drug has been greeting weary tourists for decades.

If you came across 90 on your way to the Black Hills, you definitely saw the signs for this tourist attraction. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and shop for treats and souvenirs.

Whether you’re in the mood for some fresh donuts, a cup of coffee, a glass of their specialty – free ice water, you’re in the right place.

Spend an hour or two wandering around this eclectic town full of curiosities.

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Visiting the Badlands is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Much like the Grand Canyon or any other natural wonder, photos cannot do justice to the majestic scenery and scale of this open landscape.

Riding through the Badlands on a motorcycle adds an impressive level to the vastness.

The views are amazing and there are no shortage of photo opportunities on this ride!

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