Sage Creek Rim Road
The Sage Creek Rim Road is a gravel road that is located just south of the northern Pinnacles Entrance to Badlands National Park. The road travels north and west through the park, and then circles the Badlands Wilderness Area.
Look for the Hay Butte Overlook and the Badlands Wilderness Overlook. The formations here are a little softer and less craggy than the spires located along the Badlands Loop Road, but the wildlife is more abundant. The park’s bison herd is usually seen in this area.
About five miles down the road, look for the Roberts Prairie Dog Town, a large colony of black-tailed prairie dogs. They’re rodents, but very cute ones, and the barking and social antics of these small animals is fun to watch. At dusk, keep an eye out for the rare black-footed ferret. Prairie dogs are the ferret’s main food source.
Just past Prairie Dog Town is the Sage Creek Basin Overlook. This is a great place to head into the park hiking. It’s easy access without the sharp and steep cliffs common off of the Badlands Loop Road.
Heading south along this road, you will cross a bridge over Sage Creek. At this point, examine the river bank and you’ll be able to see the Pierre Shale—the oldest visible sedimentary layer in the park, dating back over 70 million years.
About seven miles past Prairie Dog Town is a left-hand turn on another gravel road that will bring you to the Sage Creek Campground. There are picnic tables and pit toilets here. This is another great location for off-trail hiking.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition