While no commercial horse rental or day rides are available in the park, Badlands offers horse owners a chance to explore the Badlands Wilderness Area, consisting of 64,000 acres of eroded spires and mixed-grass prairie, or other areas of the park via horseback. Horseback riding is allowed in any area of the park outside of marked trails, roads, highways, and developed areas. Since there are no designated horse trails, topographic maps are useful for exploring the badlands and can be purchased at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center or online through the Badlands Natural History Association.
Horse Use Regulations
A portion of the Sage Creek Campground is designated for horse use. Hitching posts are provided and a watering hole, known as CCC Spring, is located about ½ mile southwest of the campground. Horse use regulations, as already stated, apply in the developed campground.
Riders desiring an overnight expedition must camp at least ½ mile from any road or trail and not be visible from park roads. Backcountry grazing is allowed for livestock of overnight campers. Due to a high fire danger, no fires are allowed at any time in the backcountry. Use a backpacking stove.
For Your Safety
Review park safety guidelines before venturing in the backcountry. Be aware that there is no potable water for human consumption in backcountry areas; high sediment content prevents the use of filters. Water sources for domestic livestock are rare. Horses not accustomed to badlands water may not drink it. Pack in one gallon of drinking water per person per day and 5 gallons of drinking water per animal per day.
Did You Know?
The badlands are some of the fastest eroding landscapes on earth with erosion rates averaging 1” per year in their fragile layers. However, in areas where sandstone is found, the erosion rate may be 1” in 500 years. Often, toadstools form when surrounding sediments erode beneath a sandstone caprock.