8. Backcountry camping in the Badlands
There is absolutely no better way to explore this starkly beautiful landscape than camping in the middle of it. With 50 miles of serenity and solitude in any direction, the pictures will be epic, the experience will be unforgettable, and the adventure different than any camping you’ve ever done.
Your best bet is to go in September or October when temperatures are at their most pleasant. Bring plenty of food and water (and a way to dispose of it), sturdy boots, and always let a ranger know you’ll be out there before you go. You’ll find backcountry registers at the Medicine/Castle Trail Loop, Saddle Pass Trailhead, Conata Picnic Area, Sage Creek Basin Overlook, and the Sage Creek Campground. To explore the South Unit (where some of the land is privately owned and thus requires permission to access), talk to a ranger at the White River Visitor Center to map your best route.
Check the park website for more information on planning your backcountry experience. It’s something not everyone knows about — which makes it all the more exciting.