The Badlands

The Badlands, South Dakota

The Badlands were a big change from the Black Hills.  Less than 100 miles due east the scenery changes from the lush, Ponderosa Pine covered hills to a dry, arid, almost alien moonscape.

We arrived at our campground (Cedar Pass CG) around noon and the temperature was already in the low 90’s.

A big change from the Black Hills! Badlands campground.

After setting up we explored the park a little, stopping at the visitors center to get info on hiking.  Even though it was brutally hot we did the short Cliff Shelve Trail.

A couple of hot hikers on the Cliff Shelf Trail
View from the Cliff Shelf Trail.

Everywhere you look the views are stunning. But, at least in August, it is hot, hot, hot. We decided to forgo anymore hiking until the next morning when the temperatures would be more reasonable.

The Notch Trail

We had planned to stay for two nights but both because there really aren’t that many trails (we did almost all of them in one afternoon and one morning) and because of the heat we decided to leave after one night.

Hikes in the Badlands.

We were up early (5:15 AM) and making coffee and packing up. We wanted to do the Notch Trail while it was cool(ish).  The trail is “not recommended for people with a fear of heights” so it sounded perfect! Roberta was VERY excited.

Sunrise as we start the Notch Trail

The trail is less than two miles round trip but the sign warns that it is difficult and can take up to 1.5 hours to complete.  We did it in 40 minutes with lots of stops for pictures but it was a lot of fun and…. there was a ladder to climb!

Climbing the ladder on the Notch Trail
View from the notch looking back the way we came (you can see the ladder).
View from the Notch looking south(ish).
Medicine Root/Castle Trail Loop

After finishing the Notch Trail we headed over to the Medicine Root trail to get in another 5 miles before it got too hot. On the way over we ran into some wildlife.

A bighorn sheep on the way to our second hike.

We did a loop, 2.5 miles out the Medicine Loop trail to Saddle Pass and then back along part of the Castle Trail.

View looking south from Saddle Pass
View west from Saddle Pass

On the way back on the Castle Trail we saw some very strange formations.

I guess the Egyptians settled in South Dakota.

After finishing up our hike (and just as it was starting to get hot) we drove out the Badlands Loop Road which has some of the most stunning scenery  in the park.

View from the Loop Road.
More wildlife as we exited the park. Also saw lots of prairie dogs but those guys are hard to photograph!

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