The Badlands National Park is one of my favourite in the US! However, it is not the easiest to pack for even when visiting South Dakota in Summer! But don’t worry – in this ultimate Badlands Packing list for summer visitors we have you covered with everything you will need to make sure you are ready for every eventuality with our guide to what to wear to South Dakota in Summer!
This list has been compiled based off our personal experience in Badlands National Parklast year on our 7 day South Dakota Road Trip which include a trip to Badlands, Custer State Park and of course the famous Mount Rushmore! . It includes the things that we found extremely useful and the things we didn’t have but wished we did!
Ultimate Badlands packing List – What to Wear to South Dakota in Summer
Note about this packing list – We visited in Summer and as such is written with the Summer visitor in mind! In this section of the guide we round up the best badlands national park clothing and badlands national park gear but will later look at other parts of South Dakota.
Badlands national park gear – best shoes for the Badlands
One of all the Badlands National Park gear you need the number one essential for me is having great hiking boots.
- Hiking Boots Hiking Boots are every national park fans best friend! Now not all National Parks and trailheads require hiking boots but I think for Badlands hiking boots are an essential pretty much on any trailhead!When buying hiking boots for national parks use I always look for shows that have a good sole that is non slip and also has great grip!
Click here for our round up of the easiest and best hikes in Badlands National Park.
Badlands National Park Clothing Checklist
- Lightweight Fleece
My biggest tip for travelling to Badlands is make sure you are in the park early – this is actually my tip for any National Park. If you are in before sun up as we were you are definitely going to want a light weight fleece that can be easily put over and under things!
- Rain jacket
The Weather can change quickly at Badlands so I recommend always keep a lightweight and easily foldable rain jacket with you at all times!
- Windbreaker, Hooded Top or Sports Jacket
For that inbetween weather.
- T Shirt
- Zip Off Walking Trousers
I recommend bringing these instead of trousers and shorts separately as it will save on space. They are also very comfortable when doing long hikes and dry quickly if they get wet.I ended up wearing denim shorts – basically as it was early and I hadn’t had a cup of coffee when I got dressed. The walking trousers/shorts are definitely more comfortable!
- Hiking socks
I don’t know about you but I hate blisters. Some of the trails in the park are quite tough so I recommend having a good quality pair of hiking socks and a spare with you!
We found the rocks on some of the trails to be quite dazzling therefore a paid of sunglasses came in quite handy
What Badlands Clothing to Pack for Kids
Badlands Clothing wise I don’t recommend really packing anything different for children to adults in general.
Also when travelling with small children, again check their shoes have a good sole and they can’t be kicked off if you are carrying them. We put our little one in her first pair of hiking boots for Badlands and I think this was a good decision given the uneven surfaces on some of the trailheads we used.
Badlands with Kids Packing List
If you are travelling with kids, other than clothes there are a couple of other things we recommend packing:
- Back Pack Reins
Love them or hate them I think they serve quite a good purpose! At Badlands there are quite a few steep drops, so having something that restrains them at edges is always a good idea!
Depending on the age of your child and the trails you intend to undertake I would certainly recommend taking a carrier! If you are attempting to do the notch Trail – we looked at it and chickened out, you will certainly need something when travelling with littles!
- Check our our review of hot weather baby carriers here!
Other Badland National Park Gear You Can’t Travel Without!
Days in Badlands can be long especially when you want to get in before sunrise to beat the crowds. I recommend packing your car with everything you need for a full day out which includes:
- Reuseable Water Bottle
I’m trying to reduce our plastic usage when we travel and at home! A reusable water bottle is an essential.
- Coffee Thermos and Mugs
Getting in the park very early means that you will be setting oyff from your lodgings very early – for us we stayed in Rapid City and left before 5am. This means that the hotel breakfast and places in town will not be open! I always fill up a coffee thermos before we go into a national park to help with the early start! I also pack plenty of bananas for the trip as find these great on trails!If you forget to fill up before leaving your hotel, Wall Drug is open early and late and has a cafeteria that serves good coffee!
- Lunch Box/Picnic Box, Blanket and chairs
- Back Pack
- Camera, lens and spare batteries
Trust me, your camera will be out all the time at Badlands so be sure to have spare batteries with you and lens that work best for wildlife photography.
- Sun Screen
You can be pretty exposed in Badlands so make sure you have enough sunscreen with you. For the same reason. Make sure you pack a good
- Sun Hat or Baseball cap!
What to pack for South Dakota / South Dakota Packing List
Now that you know everything you need to pack for the Badlands we turn our attention to what to pack South Dakota more broadly. When we visited South Dakota we used Rapid City as a base and then travelled out to Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park etc. The gear we required for the rest of South Dakota was slightly different to the stuff we used in Badlands National Park so here is our rest of South Dakota packing list.
What to pack for South Dakota – packing list for South Dakota checklist:
- Trainers, sandals or comfortable walking shoes
We didn’t need hiking boots for Mount Rushmore or Custer State Park but found trainers with a good sole or good walking sandals were more appropriate for the terrain and temperatures.
- Shorts and Jeans – depends on the weather
Packing List for South Dakota FAQs
What to Wear to Mt Rushmore?
If you are wondering what to wear to Mt Rushmore, don’t panic – it is actually really easy to pack for South Dakota. There are no difficult hikes at Mount Rushmore (for more info on what to do at Mount Rushmore click here) so any shoe with a good sole should be sufficient. We always recommend getting to Mount Rushmore early to beat the crowds so be sure to have some warm layers as even in summer the mornings at Mt Rushmore can be chilly!
What to Wear To Custer State Park?
If you are worried about what to wear to Custer State Park don’t be. Custer State park is really easy to pack for. I would wear similar clothes that you wear to Mount Rushmore (see above). And don’t worry if you forget anything Custer State Park has an amazing gift store with some really great clothes. I bought a few things as I just really liked the designs.
What to Wear to Wind Cave National Park
Similar to Badlands National Park but as you are going underground you will need layers to keep warm while underground.
Have you been to South Dakota in Summer? What was on your Badlands Packing List!
Further South Dakota Reading
- South Dakota Road Trip Planner
- Best Things to do in Badlands National Park
- Rapid City with Kids
- VisitingMount Rushmore Tips