Hiking The Cliff Shelf Nature Trail In Badlands National Park
Located within Badlands National Park, the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail eluded our exploration during our 2020 trip, so we made sure we hiked it during our visit this year.
The trailhead is located on the Badlands Loop Road half a mile east of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Covering a distance of half a mile, this loop trail involves an elevation gain of around 200 feet, achieved through staircases and boardwalks. A unique feature is the presence of some shade, a rarity in the Badlands, offered by a cluster of junipers positioned along the Badlands wall.
Depending on the season, a small pond may form in the vicinity, drawing local wildlife to the area.
Offering a dramatic view of the White River Valley, this loop trail also provides clear views of Eagle Butte, a flat-topped landmark located 25 miles to the south on days with good visibility.
Human activity in the Cliff Shelf dates back more than 11,000 years, and this small area boasts the identification of over 50 plant species and 100 bird species.
Exercise caution as rattlesnakes are commonly found in this area, so watch where you step.
Ideal for a family outing, this brief loop trail offers stunning vistas of the Badlands. Additionally, informative signs along the path delve into the unique features of the Badlands landscape.