Do: Castle Trail hike; 5.1 miles each way, 10.2 miles total – this trail offers the best views in the park with minimal crowds. Can’t do the full 10 miles? Coordinate a pickup at one end of the trail and get a ride back to your vehicle.
See: Quintessential Badlands landscape on the Castle Trail; thriving wildlife and surprising plantlife; hopefully not rattlesnakes.
Drive: Highway 240 along the western portion of Badlands National Park, and, if you have an All Wheel Drive vehicle that you don’t mind getting dirty, take the Sage Creek Road west back towards the Black Hills for a real rough-and-tumble driving experience.
Stay: If you’re feeling up for roughing it, Sage Creek Campground, a primitive site with no potable water or cover, is a good option within the Park. Otherwise, stay 2.5 hours West at Wind Cave and make a day trip of Badlands.
Eat: Wall Drug, north of the Park, has a variety of local favorites and serves as a tourist mecca. It was my only food stop, but I can’t imagine a more appropriate place to eat near the Badlands.