Red Shirt Table

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Trip Date: Friday, September 21st, 2018
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 24th, 2018
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.2 miles roundtrip
Time 15 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

As the highest point in Badlands National Park, Red Shirt Table offers some of the best views in the entire park. The long, roundabout journey required to reach here deters most people, so this is an opportunity to take some unique photos. The views from the pullout are decent, but you need to follow a short use-trail to the edge of the badlands for the best vantage point, see the picture below.

The use-trail leading to the edge of the badlands

The use-trail leading to the edge of the badlands

The trail skirts a barbed wire fence, descends a sandy slope, and heads straight before stopping at the drop off. In front of you, the badlands dominate your view in a way almost comparable to the Grand Canyon.
Vast views of the badlands from Red Shirt Table

Vast views of the badlands from Red Shirt Table

Across the road, you'll have another great view with a pocket of badlands in front of flat, grassy prairie ending at the Black Hills on the horizon. Black Elk Peak is clearly visible as the highest point.
The Black Hills rise above the prairie in the distance

The Black Hills rise above the prairie in the distance

If you have time, I highly suggest making the trip to this viewpoint -- there isn't another comparable view in Badlands National Park. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

Even though it's technically within Badlands National Park, this is really just a pullout with a view located a long way, inconvenient trek from the main part of the park. As such, the strict no dogs on trails rule of the main park likely won't be enforced here. In addition, the long distance from the main park keeps the crowds of people away. I was by myself until a group of cars stopped to enjoy the late afternoon view. Since this is a drive up destination, turnaround time is quick if you want to have the place to yourself for a moment. You can drive here any time of the year, and since you won't be hiking long, it's tolerable to be here even in the hot summer and cold winter. While the view and short trail is family friendly, consider whether or not the long drive is worth it with kids in the car.

Directions

Whether you're coming from the west or the east on Interstate 90, it's recommended that you take this route -- the roads on the far southeast end of Badlands National Park are notoriously rough. From Rapid City, head south on South Dakota Highway 79, then turn left on South Dakota Highway 40. Continue straight for a little under 30 miles until you see a sign labeling the pullout and the shelter pictured below on the east side of the road.

This makeshift shelter marks the pullout for Red Shirt Table viewpoint

This makeshift shelter marks the pullout for the Red Shirt Table viewpoint



Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking is free! There are no facilities here.

External Links

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