Bicycling

Bicycling on the Badlands Loop Road by Photographer Carl Johnson, 2009 Artist in Residence
Bicycling on the Badlands Loop Road by Photographer Carl Johnson, 2009 Artist in Residence

© 2009 Carl Johnson

 
Cyclists are often surprised to discover how impressive the Badlands features seem without a windshield to impede the view. From the back of a bike, it almost feels like you can reach out and touch the rugged buttes and twisted spires. Visitors planning on exploring by bicycle should be aware that bicycles are only allowed on designated paved, gravel, and dirt roads within Badlands National Park. As such, they are not allowed on hiking trails, closed roads, off-road, off-trail, or in backcountry areas. The Badlands Loop Road is open to cyclists who prefer a paved riding experience. While bicycles are allowed on the road, it is not without its hazards. The scenic road is narrow with many curves. Traffic is heavy from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Lacking much of a shoulder, recreational vehicles with extended mirrors pose a danger for cyclists riding along the sides of the road. Water is not available along the route and cyclists should avoid dehydration by bringing sufficient amounts with them. Obey traffic regulations and wear bright colors, protective clothing, and a helmet. Several steep passes involving an elevation change of 250 feet in less than 500 meters can be challenging for cyclists not prepared for the experience.

A bicycle repair station is located on the west side of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.

Bicycle Safely with Bison

When biking with bison, move to the opposite side of the road and use a car as an escort if possible.

Bicycling Off the Beaten Path

Sage Creek Loop (23 miles)

A fairly easy ride through rolling grasslands, this route offers good opportunities for wildlife viewing. Start at the junction of the Badlands Loop Road and the Sage Creek Rim Road. Follow the unpaved Sage Creek Road west for seven miles to the junction with County Road 502. Follow the signs to Wall until you reach a paved road. Turn right on the paved road and travel until you reach Highway 240. Inside Badlands National Park, Highway 240 is called the Badlands Loop Road. Take Highway 240 south through the Pinnacles Entrance and back to the junction with Sage Creek Rim Road. If you entered the park by car, remember to bring your entrance receipt with you. You must present this at the entrance station or you will be expected to pay $7 per person. 12 miles paved, 11 miles unpaved.

Northeast-Big Foot Loop (27 miles total)

A long but fairly easy ride after the initial hill climb, this route takes you through ranch land and badland formations. Starting from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, ride up the steep Cedar Pass along the Badlands Loop Road. Once at the top of the Pass, turn left on the gravel Old Northeast Road. Follow this road six miles past the park boundary to a junction. Continue straight (north) for one mile, then follow the road as it turns left. Stay on County Road CH12 through ranch country for 6 miles until you reach a T-intersection at the Big Foot Road. Turn left (south) and continue into the park to the paved Badlands Loop Road. Turn left and return to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. 11 miles paved, 16 miles unpaved.

Northeast Loop (17 miles)

This is also a fairly easy ride after the initial climb up Cedar Pass. Start from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, riding up the steep Cedar Pass. Once at the top, turn left on the unpaved Old Northeast Road. Follow this route for 6 miles past the park bound- ary to a junction. Bear right (east), parallelling Interstate 90 until you reach Cactus Flat. Here you will find a convenience store, a campground and motel, gas, and the offices for Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Turn south on Highway 240 and continue past the park entrance to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. If you entered the park by car, remember to bring your entrance receipt with you. You must present your receipt at the entrance station or you will be expected to pay $7 per person. 9 miles paved, 8 miles unpaved.

Last updated: January 17, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD 57750

Phone:

(605) 433-5361

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