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Jul 30

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail: Badlands National Park

Walking ThroughOn our way west Karen and I spent a half a day checking out as much as we could of Badlands National Park in South Dakota and came to the conclusion that the Badlands are not really that bad.  The national park has several short hiking trails to offer and one of our favorites was the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail due to the fact it offered a completely different habitat to walk through than the other hikes.The TrailThe Cliff Shelf Nature Trail is a short half mile loop that follows a series of boardwalks and stairs through a juniper forest.  On the Badlands Loop Road, the main road in the park, the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail is probably your best chance to see some wildlife.  We were able to spot several different species of birds, and there was a very excited boy that kept yelling out that he saw a rattlesnake though neither we nor his parents saw it.Badlands OasisThis trail at Badlands National Park is an easy hike, but it is not wheelchair accessible due to its series of stairs throughout the loop.  For the average person The Cliff Shelf Nature Trail should take less than 45 minutes to complete depending on the amount of time used to scan for wildlife and take in the scenery. To help you enjoy the trail make sure you pick up the interpretive pamphlet on the trail.  If you do decide to pick up the literature please either pay the small fee for the booklet or return it after completing your hike.Juniper ForestIf you are like us and just doing a quick overview of Badlands National Park make sure you do this hike along with the Notch Trail to get a thorough survey of the park.  The contrast in scenery from the rest of the park made the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail even more enjoyable.  After doing the trail make sure you stop by the Ben Reifel Visitor Center which is just a little bit further down the road for more information about the park.

To read about other hikes that we have done click here. Cliff Shelf Nature Trail Sign
Cliff Shelf Nature Trail
Half Mile Loop Trail
Easy Level Hike
30 minutes
For more information on Badlands National Park go to their website at http://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm

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