Closest Airport To Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park scored high on accessibility for us, but flying there doesn’t present many choices. It’s not a busy part of the country, so you’ll most likely need a connecting flight unless you live in a few select cities. There’s also a handful of options if you’re flying private, but we recommend using the closest airport to Badlands National Park, Rapid City, for the airlines. Don’t overcomplicate it, book a flight into Rapid City and save yourself extra driving time.

Rapid City Regional Airport- Best Airport with Airlines

Aeronautical map of closest airport to Badlands National Park, Rapid City Regional.

Distance To Badlands National Park: 68 miles

Drive Time: 1 hour

Major Airlines Offered: Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta, Sun Country and United Airlines.

ICAO Identifier: RAP

Rapid City Regional Airport is the closest major airport to Badlands National Park. Flying into Rapid City puts you just over an hour drive (68 miles) to the Pinnacles Entrance of Badlands. There are several direct flight options to operate in and out of this airport to make things a little easier. Here’s some of your best direct flight locations:

  • Denver (DEN)- 1 hr 15 min flight (shortest flight)
  • Minneapolis (MSP)- about 2 hr flight
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD)- 2 hr flight
  • Phoenix Mesa Gateway (AZA)- 2 hr 15 min flight
  • Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)- 2 hr 30 min flight
  • Charlotte (CLT)- 3 hr 40 min flight

There are several carriers that operate here so you should be able to find daily flights for your visit to the Badlands.

Sioux Falls Regional Airport- Next Best Option with Major Airlines

Distance To Badlands National Park: 274 miles

Drive Time: 4 hour

Major Airlines Offered: Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier and United Airlines.

ICAO Identifier: FSD

Sioux Falls Regional Airport is the next closest airport with substantial airline services. They have 20 direct flight destinations around the US and offer over 200 more connecting destinations so there’s plenty of traffic in and out to get you where you have to go.

The downside to using Sioux Falls is the drive to the Badlands once you land. It’s going to take you another 4 hours in the car as the city is located on the eastern border of South Dakota. Definitely more flight options that RAP, but it’s tough to settle for that drive.

Note: There’s a lot of people that mention flying into Pierre, SD as another option because it’s closer to the Badlands than Sioux Falls. This is an option you can take, but every flight will connect through Denver (DEN) and you’ll then hop on a Key Lime Air (DBA Denver Air Connect) flight to Pierre (PIR). Not my first or second choice, but it’s there if it’s something you want to consider.

And you’ll still have about a 2 hour drive to the closest Badlands entrance.

If you’re looking to fly commercially to the Badlands, your best option is by far Rapid City Regional Airport. There’s enough airline services operating there to get a flight with a major carrier and you avoid the long drive after you land.

Next, we’ll look at some airport options for those lucky enough to fly charter or private to the Badlands.

Other Airports Near Badlands National Park

Have you ever wanted to sight see over the Badlands on your own? These next few airports are for those readers who hold a pilot certificate and can fly themselves or those lucky enough to use a charter company to get them there.

Wall Municipal (6V4)

This is by far the closest airport to Badlands National Park. The runway is 3,499 feet so if the performance numbers work, it’s a nice stop to visit Wall and the Badlands.

Note: Wall Municipal is currently closed for heavy construction until October 2, 2023.

Philip Airport (PHP)

Philip Airport is another option for smaller aircraft that is about 35 miles from the Badlands eastern entrance. It’ll take you about 40 minutes to drive it. Don’t expect to see anyone if you stop here. There’s a 3,998 ft runway, but the FBO is very rundown and not taken care of. There’s no running water either. The airport offers 100LL for fuel but that’s really it.

Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP)

Not only is this the best option for airlines, but it’s also a great option for private flyers. It offers a nice runway, 8,701 ft for all types of aircraft. There’s plenty of approach procedures if the weather is bad and they have a nice FBO in Westjet Air Center.

They offer 100LL and Jet A fuel, running water, car services, internet, a pilot lounge, and much more. The fees will be higher because it’s a busier airport and offers more services so expect to pay. However, it will have much better services than Philips or Wall.

Pierre Regional Airport (PIR)/ Custer County Airport (CUT)

I include these two together because it’s really a coin flip. Both airports are about a 2 hour drive from Badlands National Park. Pierre has bigger runways and more procedures along with FBO facilities, but has nothing else around. Custer is located in a much better spot with everything in the Black Hills to do and has FBOs facilities, but only offers one runway and limited services.

The drive time is the same, but having stayed in Custer before, I highly recommend flying yourself into Custer instead of Pierre if you’re planning a multi-day stay.

Chadron Municipal Airport (CDR)

Now we’re getting further away from the Badlands, but Chadron is a viable option for private flyers. It has a 6,000 ft runway in great condition and offers FBO services with 100LL and Jet A fuel, pilot lounge, restrooms and more.

Going into Chadron puts you much closer to the South Unit of the park, about an hour and a half to the White River Visitor Center. It’s over 2 hours to the north unit of the park. The town of Chadron offers everything you need to overnight as well. It’s not my first choice, but if you’re content to be closer to the south unit, then this airport might be one to consider.

What’s the closest city to Badlands National Park?

The closest city to the park is Rapid City, SD. It’s home to Rapid City Airport and a long list of places to stay and eat. You’re an hour drive to the Pinnacles Entrance of Badlands and just under 2 hours to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.

There’s a few small towns closer to the park, such as Wall and Philip but they might not make the best place to fly into if you’re staying for several days.

What is there to do near Badlands National Park?

If you’re visiting the Badlands, we recommend visiting southwestern South Dakota as well. Head west from the park and see one of the coolest areas in the Great Plains.

Visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Black Hills National Forest, and so much more. You can easily spend a week in this park of the country after your visit to the Badlands.

Conclusion

Flying to the Badlands can be an adventure. There’s not much around the park so no matter what, you’ll have some kind of drive after your flight. Airline destinations are few and far between in this part of the country so get something booked into Rapid City to make things easy. Overall, the hour drive after the flight isn’t bad. If you’re flying yourself, you have a few more options so pick what works for your flight plan and experience. Have fun on the journey and look out for more info on the Badlands!