Thing to Do

Badlands Ranger Programs

a ranger points at a geologic column on a piece of paper in front of a badlands butte.

Visiting the Badlands? Curious about the history, culture, and science of the park? Consider attending a ranger program! During a typical summer season, rangers offer many programs throughout the course of the day. Regular ranger programs are listed below and the full program schedule can be found on our calendar. Ask a ranger at the Ben Reife Visitor Center or White River Visitor Center about what programs will be conducted during your visit.

Geology Walk

After miles of rolling prairie, the Badlands seem to rise up out of nowhere. How did they get to where they are today? What do all of the layers of the formations tell us? Join a ranger at Door Trail for answers to these questions and more on a walk through Badlands geology.

This program is offered on Door Trail, which is a boardwalk trail and ADA accessible. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Junior Ranger Program

Bringing little ones with you on your visit to the Badlands? Consider joining in on a Junior Ranger Program at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, offered every day at 11:30am. Topics vary daily and include educational activities about bison in Lakota culture, fossils, migratory birds, and more. By attending this in-person program, kids can earn a Badlands Junior Ranger patch. They can also earn a Badlands Junior Ranger badge online or by completing an activity book.

This program is offered at various locations around the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. If you or your family require accommodations for accessibility, please let a ranger at the front desk know prior to the 11:30am start time. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Fossil Talks

There are millions of years of life embedded in Badlands formations. We know about them because of the fossils paleontologists and visitors alike have found in the park -- and continue to be found every day! Learn about the amazing history of life, evolution, and death at a Fossil Talk, offered in the summer at 10:30am and 1:30pm every day on Fossil Exhibit Trail.

This program is offered at Fossil Exhibit, which is a quarter-mile boardwalk ADA accessible trail. The program takes place under a sun shelter right next to the parking lot. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Evening Program

If you plan to spend the evening in the park or the surrounding area, consider attending an Evening Program at the Cedar Pass Amphitheater. Evening Programs are offered on a wide variety of topics which change daily. In the past, topics have included bison, bighorn sheep, fossils, National Parks trivia, and more. The start time of this program varies throughout the summer to accommodate the changing time of sunset, but typically starts around 8:30pm or 9pm. During your visit, check in with rangers at the Ben Reifel or White River Visitor Centers to find out what the program topic is and when the program begins.

This program is offered at the Cedar Pass Amphitheater, which includes a low-grade paved ramp path from the parking lot. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Night Sky Program

Take advantage of the spectacular dark skies of Badlands National Park by attending a Night Sky Program at the Cedar Pass Amphitheater. Park astronomers will guide you through the night sky, pointing out celestial objects like stars, constellations, planets, satellites, and more! Telescopes will also be available for visitors to look through and get a closer look at planets or the moon. The time of the Night Sky varies to accommodate the changing time of sunset, but typically starts around 9:30pm or 10pm in the summer.

This program is offered at the Cedar Pass Amphitheater, which includes a low-grade paved ramp path from the parking lot. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Porch Talks

Visiting the South Unit of Badlands National Park? Swing by the White River Visitor Center and catch a Porch Talk. These impromptu talks are offered throughout the summer on demand, whenever the White River Visitor Center is open. They include a variety of topics. Ask rangers about Porch Talks when you visit!

The White River Visitor Center and its porch have a ramp entrance accessible for those using wheelchairs. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Details
Programs at Badlands National Park offer a wide variety of activities -- with guided walks, ranger talks, Junior Ranger programs, and stargazing, there's something for everyone.

Pets are permitted in Badlands National Park with some restrictions. Pets must be kept on a leash no more than six feet in length at all times. Pets are only permitted 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. 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. Pet etiquette dictates always cleaning up animal waste and disposing of it in trash receptacles.

Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
Accessibility Information
Accessibility for each program location is listed below:

Geology Walk

This program is offered on Door Trail, which is a boardwalk trail and ADA accessible. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Junior Ranger Program

This program is offered at various locations around the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. If you or your family require accommodations for accessibility, please let a ranger at the front desk know prior to the 11:30am start time. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Fossil Talks

This program is offered at Fossil Exhibit Trail, which is a quarter-mile boardwalk ADA accessible trail. The program takes place under a sun shelter right next to the parking lot. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Evening Program

This program is offered at the Cedar Pass Amphitheater, which includes a low-grade paved ramp path from the parking lot. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Night Sky Program

This program is offered at the Cedar Pass Amphitheater, which includes a low-grade paved ramp path from the parking lot. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Porch Talks

The White River Visitor Center and its porch have a ramp entrance accessible for those using wheelchairs. Visitors of all abilities are welcome to join.

Last updated: December 30, 2020