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Where To Stay Near Badlands National Park (Places + Hotels)

Where To Stay Near Badlands National Park (Places + Hotels)

Badlands National Park has limited hotel options both inside and near the park boundaries. Interior and Wall are closest to the park, and they work for short term stays if you want convenience but they lack amenities. Rapid City and Keystone are further out but they have more hotel options and far more restaurants, so they work better for day trips into Badlands.

In this guide we take you step-by-step through where to stay when visiting Badlands National Park, based on our experiences.

Our Badlands Hotels Experience

Mark and Kristen Morgan from Where Are Those Morgans at the summit viewpoint on notch trail in Badlands national park
Here we are at the summit viewpoint of Notch Trail

We stayed at a budget hotel in Wall, slept in our tent at Sage Creek campground inside the park and spent 2 nights at a budget hotel in Keystone during our first trip to Badlands in the fall of 2019. Then we booked a mid-range hotel in Wall and stayed at a mid-range hotel in Keystone during our second visit to the Black Hills in spring of 2021.

Wall and Keystone worked best for our overall itinerary both times. But we were traveling quickly and waking up for sunrise photography in the mornings, so they might not necessarily be your best options because you’ll have a different travel style. In truth, your best hotel option will depend on how long you want to spend in the Badlands. Read more about us.

How Many Days Do You Need For Badlands?

Buttes and canyons with red rock layers under a dark cloudy sky
Photogenic rock layers, buttes, domes and canyons

Before you book a hotel near Badlands, you first need to establish how long you’ll spend in the park. You can definitely spend 2 days in the park if you’re into hiking or photography, so you’d need to book one night at a nearby hotel. But if you’re just sightseeing and stopping at overlooks, you can easily see Badlands in half a day.

We recommend booking a hotel in Keystone, Rapid City or Custer if you’re flying into Rapid City airport and spending 3-7 days in the Black Hills. It makes more sense to be centrally located to the top attractions near Mount Rushmore. But if you’re driving through South Dakota on I-90 like we did both times, you should consider spending a night in Wall or Interior, either before or after exploring Badlands.

Lodging Inside The Park

Row of wooden cabins next to a dirt road make up Cedar Pass Lodge the only hotel in Badlands National Park
Cedar Pass Lodge cabins inside Badlands National Park

Popular national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon have a wide range of official national park run hotels, lodges and cabins within park boundaries. At Badlands National Park you have just one option called Cedar Pass Lodge, which consists of around 20 detached wooden cabins.

The location of Cedar Pass Lodge is about as good as it gets for visiting Badlands. And you can eat at Cedar Pass restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (April-October). We think the lodge is a great place to stay if you want instant access to the park’s hikes and overlooks.

  • Cost: $220 + tax / night
  • Dates: 4/19/2024 – 10/20/2024
  • Book: Cedar Pass Lodge

What if the cabins are out of your price range, they’re all booked up or staying inside the park doesn’t suit your travel plans?

Well, there’s 4 other places near Badlands National Park for you to consider booking a hotel, so let’s get into them!

1. Interior

Bighorn sheep surrounded by fog on a snowy day in South Dakota
Bighorn Sheep on a snowy day in Badlands

Interior is the closest place you can stay to Badlands National Park at just 3 miles from Ben Reifel visitor center. It’s a tiny village with one lodging option called Badlands Hotel and Campground, a convenience store, a gas station, a restaurant called Wagon Wheel and a bar called Lulu’s.

Badlands Hotel and Campground is open from April through October and it’s far more affordable than Cedar Pass Lodge. You still get the location close to hikes and overlooks, but at a fraction of the price. It’s also dog friendly and it even has an outdoor pool!

Interior is where to stay near Badlands National park if you want instant access to the park, maybe to watch sunrise from one of the overlooks. It also works well if you plan to stargaze because it’s so close to the park and you won’t have to drive far in the dark.

Budget:

2. Wall

Stunning Badlands National Park landscape in South Dakota with thick clouds in the sky
Unique landscape under a cloudy sky

Wall is a small town located just 7.5 miles from Badlands Pinnacle Entrance (west side). There’s 10 hotels and more varied amenities on offer, including the famous Wall Drug Store which you’ll see advertised for countless miles on billboards if you drive I-90 through South Dakota. Amenities include a few restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, cafes and fast food options.

We book our hotels with Booking when we travel, and during both our trips to Badlands there were only 4 chain hotels available offering similar rooms at similar prices. But in 2022, the more luxurious Badlands Frontier Cabins opened and quickly became the top rated place to stay in Wall.

There are more hotels in Wall that you can’t book through an OTA like Booking.com or Hotels.com. But they don’t have safe websites so we’ll include links to Tripadvisor so you can at least see guest reviews.

Budget:

Mid range:

Luxury:

Our experience: We’ve stayed at both Americas Best Value Inn and Best Western Plains. Both stays were affordable and did the job, but next time we’ll stay at Badlands Frontier Cabins.

3. Rapid City

Yellow Mounds in a wide open landscape with clouds
Yellow Mounds Overlook is one of the most popular viewpoints in the park

Rapid City regional airport is the major transport hub for accessing the Black Hills and Rapid City itself is the largest urban area in western South Dakota. Downtown Rapid City is just 62 miles from Badlands Pinnacle Entrance (west side), which takes around 1 hour to drive on I-90. So it’s a great option if you want to day trip to the Badlands, then return to the edge of the Black Hills.

Most hotels in Rapid City are budget or mid-range options located in clusters on the outskirts of town. These hotels have easier access to I-90 for Badlands and US-16 for Mount Rushmore. There are limited hotel options available downtown and they tend to be more expensive, so if you want to book a hotel in the center of Rapid City we suggest booking well in advance.

There’s lots of hotel options in Rapid City, so we’ll only show you the top rated budget and mid-range hotels, along with the few hotels available downtown.

Budget:

Mid range:

Downtown Rapid City:

According to thousands of previous guests on both Google and Booking.com, Best Western Plus is the top rated hotel in Rapid City.

Travel tip: There are no hotels at Rapid City regional airport, but you can stay in Rapid City if you land late or take off early.

4. Keystone

Bison walking on grass in snow and fog in south dakota
Lone bison walking through the snow near Sage Creek campground

Keystone is a popular resort town located close to Mount Rushmore, but it’s 80 miles from Badlands Pinnacles Entrance (west side), which will take you around 1 hour 20 minutes to drive. Along with Custer, we think Keystone is a great place to stay for a few nights in the Black Hills because it’s near lots of attractions.

We recommend choosing Keystone as your place to stay near Badlands in two scenarios. The first is if you plan to day trip into the Badlands rather than spend a night close to the park. And the second is if you’ll be passing by Badlands on I-90 and spending 2-6 hours inside the park before continuing into the Black Hills.

Keystone has a lot going on in peak season but in low season you’ll find most places are closed. Be sure to check opening dates for restaurants in Keystone during your travel dates.

Budget:

Mid range:

Luxury:

Our experience: We’ve stayed at Comfort Inn and Suites which was a great stay and K Bar S Lodge which was an excellent stay. Next time we would probably stick with K Bar S Lodge.

Further Reading: The 8 best hotels in Keystone SD

Badlands Campground + RV Park

Empty campground and RV spot with a bench and hookups at Cedar Pass campground one of the only lodging spots in Badlands
Cedar Pass Campground and RV Park

If you can’t find a hotel to fit your travel budget, you might want to consider camping or RV’ing instead. We know camping isn’t for everyone but it is a great way to stay inside the park and save money at the same time.

Here are the 2 campgrounds at Badlands:

  • Cedar Pass Campground – Near the main Badlands visitor center, easily accessible, and has both tent and RV sites for a fee.
  • Sage Creek Campground – Primitive camping area accessed via a long gravel road, has no services but it’s free and based on first come first served (around 20 sites).

Our experience: We spent a night at Sage Creek Campground in the fall of 2019 but we didn’t sleep very well. The coyotes were howling and then our tent completely collapsed at 4:00am due to strong winds! So we had to spend the next few hours sleeping in the car, which was fun.

Travel tip: We’ve teamed up with The Dyrt to offer our readers an exclusive no strings 30-day free trial with The Dyrt Pro. You can use the free trial to receive alerts when fully booked campgrounds get cancellations at the most popular parks.

Badlands Hotels Map

Click or touch the map below to activate. Zoom in and out, move around the map and see the locations for each hotel listed in this guide.

Map key:

  • Orange: Cedar Pass Lodge
  • Purple: Interior
  • Blue: Wall
  • Green: Rapid City
  • Red: Keystone
  • Yellow: Campgrounds

The Morgan Conclusion

Woman climbing a wooden ladder on a granite rock landscape
Kristen climbing the famous Notch Trail ladder

We recommend staying at Cedar Pass Lodge, Interior or Wall if you want to instant access to Badlands for sunrise or sunset photography, hiking and stargazing. They also make the most sense if you’re driving through South Dakota on your way to the Black Hills, so you can stop to explore Badlands on the way. We’d stay at Badlands Frontier Cabins in Wall.

Otherwise, we recommend booking your hotel in Rapid City or Keystone. You can easily day trip to the Badlands from both, plus you’ll have better amenities and you’ll be closer to other attractions in the Black Hills. We’d stay at Best Western Plus in Rapid City and K Bar S Lodge in Keystone.

More From Badlands

More Hotel Destinations

Want more South Dakota content? Head over to our South Dakota Travel Guides to explore Mount Rushmore, Badlands, the Black Hills and beyond. 


We hope our Badlands hotels guide helps with planning your visit to South Dakota!

Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Happy travels,

Mark and Kristen

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