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
- For day ride access, vehicles with horse trailers may be parked at overlooks and parking areas. Off-road driving is strictly prohibited.
- Only certified weed free hay or processed horse feed products may be brought into the park.
- Horses and pack animals are not allowed to run loose, be loose herded, or trailed.
- The tying of horses and pack animals to any living or dead feature that could result in damage to the feature, vegetation, or soil is prohibited.
- Picketed horses and pack animals shall not be kept within 100 feet of trails, campsites, or water sources.
- Picket pins should be packed in and moved frequently to prevent overgrazing or damage to vegetation. The pins must be removed from the ground before leaving camp.
- Horse and pack animal manure must be completely removed from the campground and well scattered in any other grazing areas in the park.
- If a horse or pack animal becomes lost or dies within park boundaries, report the loss to park staff as soon as possible.
- Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the Badlands Wilderness Area or outside of developed areas in the park.
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.