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Spotting Wildlife in the Badlands

a bighorn sheep's head appears above a swath of tall green grasses.
With thousands of wild animals calling the Badlands home, there are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife during your visit.

NPS Photo / Larry McAfee

a large herd of around 20 buffalo surround a black car driving through a grassy field.
Perhaps you will see some of the 1,200 bison in the park on your drive through the Badlands!

NPS Photo / Alex Ennes

Looking for wildlife in the Badlands? Animals both big and small can be found throughout the park, and getting a glimpse of them can be very exciting. If you do come across wildlife during your visit, keep in mind that these animals are wild and can be dangerous if approached.

Bison are best seen from Sage Creek Rim Road, which overlooks the Badlands Wilderness Area where they live. Bighorn Sheep are often seen on the rocky precipices of Pinnacles Overlook and in Cedar Pass areas like Castle Trail and Big Badlands Overlook. Prairie dog towns exist throughout the park and can be viewed from the road at Burns Basin Overlook, Roberts Prairie Dog Town, and Sage Creek Campground. Locations for other wildlife (such as deer, coyotes, or snakes) are variable, so keep your eyes peeled – they may be just around the corner!

In the lists below, you can find articles about Badlands wildlife and common locations in the park where you may see them. Use the navigation bar to check out a specific animal or explore them all!

Wildlife Viewing Navigation

Bison

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    Bighorn Sheep

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      Prairie Dogs

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          Tags: wildlife
          Details
          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
          Most wildlife viewing in Badlands National Park can be done from the comfort of your car. Many overlooks from which wildlife can be seen are wheelchair accessible.

          Last updated: August 31, 2020