Last updated: December 30, 2020
Visitors planning on exploring by bicycle should be aware that bicycles are only allowed on designated paved, gravel, and dirt roads within Badlands National Park. As such, they are not allowed on hiking trails, closed roads, off-road, off-trail, or in backcountry areas.
Biking Badlands Loop Road
The Badlands Loop Road is open to bicyclists who prefer a paved riding experience. While bicycles are allowed on the road, it is not without its hazards. The scenic road is narrow with many curves. Traffic is heavy from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Lacking much of a shoulder, recreational vehicles with extended mirrors pose a danger for cyclists riding along the sides of the road. Water is not available along the route and cyclists should avoid dehydration by bringing sufficient amounts with them. Obey traffic regulations and wear bright colors, protective clothing, and a helmet. Several steep passes involving an elevation change of 250 feet in less than 500 meters can be challenging for cyclists not prepared for the experience.
Bison and Bicycles
When biking with bison, move to the opposite side of the road and use a car as an escort if possible.
A bicycle repair station is located on the west side of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Bicycling Off the Beaten Path
Sage Creek Loop (23 miles)
A fairly easy ride through rolling grasslands, this route offers good opportunities for wildlife viewing. Start at the junction of the Badlands Loop Road and the Sage Creek Rim Road. Follow the unpaved Sage Creek Road west for seven miles to the junction with County Road 502. Follow the signs to Wall until you reach a paved road. Turn right on the paved road and travel until you reach Highway 240. Inside Badlands National Park, Highway 240 is called the Badlands Loop Road. Take Highway 240 south through the Pinnacles Entrance and back to the junction with Sage Creek Rim Road. If you entered the park by car, remember to bring your entrance receipt with you. You must present this at the entrance station or you will be expected to pay $7 per person. 12 miles paved, 11 miles unpaved.
Northeast-Big Foot Loop (27 miles total)
A long but fairly easy ride after the initial hill climb, this route takes you through ranch land and badland formations. Starting from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, ride up the steep Cedar Pass along the Badlands Loop Road. Once at the top of the Pass, turn left on the gravel Old Northeast Road. Follow this road six miles past the park boundary to a junction. Continue straight (north) for one mile, then follow the road as it turns left onto Country Road CH12. Goatheads (a spiny, sharp seed) can be found on this road seasonally, especially in late summer, and can pop tires. If taking this route, be cautious and bring spare tires. Stay on County Road CH12 through ranch country for 6 miles until you reach a T- intersection at the Big Foot Road. Turn left (south) and continue into the park to the paved Badlands Loop Road. Turn left and return to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. 11 miles paved, 16 miles unpaved.
Northeast Loop (17 miles)
This is also a fairly easy ride after the initial climb up Cedar Pass. Start from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, riding up the steep Cedar Pass. Once at the top, turn left on the unpaved Old Northeast Road. Follow this route for 6 miles past the park bound- ary to a junction. Bear right (east), parallelling Interstate 90 until you reach Cactus Flat. Here you will find a convenience store, a campground and motel, gas, and the offices for Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Turn south on Highway 240 and continue past the park entrance to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. If you entered the park by car, remember to bring your entrance receipt with you. You must present your receipt at the entrance station or you will be expected to pay $7 per person. 9 miles paved, 8 miles unpaved.
- Pets are allowed only on paved or gravel roads and in developed areas such as campgrounds.
- Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
- Pets are not allowed on trails or in public buildings.
- Leaving an animal unattended and/or tied to a fixed object is prohibited, as well as a danger to your pet.
- Pet etiquette dictates always cleaning up animal waste and disposing of it in trash receptacles.
- Service animals are an exception to most pet restrictions and are allowed on trails and in public buildings. Service animals must be kept on a leash at all times and, due to potentially infectious wildlife diseases, are not allowed in areas with prairie dog colonies.
- Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.