Castle Trail Information
Castle Trail is located off of Badlands Loop Road (SD 240), which is accessible from Interstate 90 from Exit 110 or Exit 131. There are ample parking spaces at either the east or west trailheads. The park entry fees, which vary by vehicle type, are the only fees assessed, but be sure to sign in on a trail register at the trailhead or the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Pets are only allowed in parking areas, so don't bring your furry friend on your hike. Open fires are not permitted, so be sure to bring your camp stove.
Castle Trail is fairly easy, and at a moderate distance of 10 miles out-and-back, the distance is great for a quick trip. The weather in the area causes a majority of the challenges, so be on the lookout for quickly changing weather, and err on the side of bringing too much water because in the summer, it is a desert-like.
Time To Complete: 18.0 hours
Distance: 10.0 miles
Castle Trail is a 10-mile out-and-back with options and spur trails at the east end to lengthen your hike. Take Medicine Root Trail to turn the hike into a bit of a loop.
Seasonality: Spring, Fall
Winter and summer are the worst seasons to backpack in the Badlands. Winters in Badlands National Park are cold and windy with snow likely throughout most of the season. Summers are very hot, with temperatures often near 100 degrees. In the afternoons and evenings, large thunderstorms that are accompanied by lightning and hail are frequent. Be careful during or after rainfalls, as the formations are very loose, and can become unsafe to hike on.
There is a park entry fee of $15.00, which is good for 7 days per vehicle, but no fee for backcountry camping permits. Backcountry permits are not required, but there are registers at the Medicine/Castle Trail Loop, Saddle Pass Trailhead, Conata Picnic Area, Sage Creek Basin Overlook, and the Sage Creek Campground.
Dog Friendly: No