Pets are permitted in Badlands National Park with some restrictions. While visiting the park, pets must be kept on a leash no more than six feet in length at all times. Pets are allowed in developed areas, such as campgrounds and picnic areas, and other areas open to motor vehicles, such as gravel and paved roadways, roadway corridors, and parking lots. Pet etiquette dictates always cleaning up animal waste and disposing of it in trash receptacles.
Pets are prohibited from hiking trails, public buildings (i.e. visitor centers), and backcountry areas, including the Badlands Wilderness Area and areas with prairie dog colonies. Leaving your animal unattended or tied to a fixed object is prohibited, as well as an entanglement hazard for your pet.
Pets may be left unattended within motor vehicles, provided the animal is given proper ventilation and water and the weather is not hazardous to the welfare of the animal. Keep in mind that summer temperatures can be extreme, often reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Even on an 86 degree day, the temperature inside a motor vehicle can quickly reach 134 to 154 degrees, killing a treasured pet. In such instances, cracking a window does little to decrease internal vehicle temperatures.
Service animals are an exception to most pet restrictions and are allowed on trails and in public buildings. Service animals must be kept on a leash at all times and, due to potentially infectious wildlife diseases, are not allowed in areas with prairie dog colonies.
Reasons for Pet Restrictions
The park prohibits pets in the Wilderness area, other backcountry areas, on hiking trails, and in areas closed to motor vehicles for the following reasons:
Did You Know?
To the Lakota, this harsh and desolate landscape was known as "mako sica," meaning “land bad." Early French trappers similarly described the area as “bad lands to travel across." Today, geologists consider all the places in the world with similar topography and formation badlands.