Thing to Do

Hiking Badlands Back Roads With Your Dog

Siberian husky pulls against his leash while walking along a road at Badlands National Park.

Scenic back roads in and around Badlands National Park provide an exciting back country experience for you and your dog. One of the favorites is the Old Northeast Road just north of Cedar Pass. This active ranch road takes you into the prairie and away from the highway. Dogs can sniff for rabbits and watch birds, while walking in the tracks of deer and pronghorn. One can sometimes pass cattle grazing the ranch land.

Be sure to visit in the off season. The nights may get below freezing but the days are cool and the sun is warm. The rest of the year is too hot to travel with your pet in the car and you are bound to run into rattlesnakes on the roads.

The back roads are a perfect place to take off with your pet. You are off the beaten path, immersed in prairie scents and sounds, and can go for what seems like miles. On your return trip badland formations get ever closer. Depending on the time of day lighting makes for a spectaular experience.
Leashed pets are allowed on park roads including back country dirt roads. Letting your pet off leash is not allowed for the safety of your dog and the best interest of your enjoyment. Rabbits, snakes, birds, deer, antelope, are all present at anytime and cause a real threat no matter how prepared you might be or how obedient your dog is in more familiar territory. 

Check out superintendent's compendium 36 CFR §2.15 - Pets  to learn more. 

There is a park entrance fee to be paid at the fee booth or at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center in Cedar Pass. 
The Old Northeast Road is just north of Cedar Pass in Badlands National Park. About a quater mile down the road is a parking spot for trail users. Be sure to keep valuables out of view and lock your vehicle. 
There is no reservation required for this experience. 
The best time of year is while the daytime temperatures are in the 40s and 50s, late fall, winter, and early spring. These lower temperatures eliminate the chance of running into rattlesnakes, especially at dusk and dawn. You also avoid the potential for heatstroke for both you and your dog.
The best time of day is dawn and dusk when the light is low and the color on the badlands is at their best. 
Accessibility Information

Badlands backroads are usually two-lane, gravel, and even. They can be difficult to traverse with a wheelchair due to the loose nature of the ground.

Badlands National Park

Last updated: April 19, 2021