Thing to Do

Badlands Sunrises & Sunsets

badlands buttes are illuminated by red sunlight, which creates shadows in the canyons.

Many visitors like to catch a sunset or sunrise in Badlands National Park. The lighting at this time of day is spectacular and well worth waking up early or staying out late. Check out this page to learn more about the best spots to enjoy these times of day. 

Photographers call the time around sunrise and sunset the “magic” hour because the light is soft and casts a warm glow on the landscape. In the Badlands, subtle shades of red, yellow, and buff in the pinnacles and buttes become deeper and richer at these times of day. Look for the colors to become extra saturated after a rainstorm. The long rays of light in the magic hour cast dramatic shadows, adding a three-dimensional quality to photographs.

For sunrises, try the Big Badlands Overlook, the Door Trail, the Norbeck Pass area, the Dillon Pass area, and Panorama Point, just west of Bigfoot Pass. Each of these areas provide views of the sunrise itself, along with the first rays of light that hit pinnacles facing east.

For sunsets, try Pinnacles Overlook, Conata Basin Overlook, Bigfoot Pass Picnic Area, and the Norbeck Pass area. Walking the Castle Trail (west for sunrise, east for sunset) is a great way to view the changing light on the north side of the Wall and provides a wonderful opportunity to explore and immerse yourself in the environment.

Scenic Driving
Pets are prohibited in the Ben Reifel Visitor Center unless they are a certified service animal. Emotional support animals are not service animals and are not allowed in the visitor center.

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.
Year Round
Check for updated sunrise/sunset times on the internet or view a listing of them at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Accessibility Information

Of the sunset/sunrise spots listed in this Thing To Do, the following incorporate boardwalks and are accessible to visitors who use wheelchairs:

  • Big Badlands Overlook (sunrise)
  • Door Trail (sunrise)
  • Panorama Point (sunrise)
  • Pinnacles Overlook (sunset)
  • Conata Basin Overlook (sunset)
  • Bigfoot Pass Picnic Area (sunset)

Badlands National Park

Last updated: December 29, 2020