FATMAP by Strava

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

A short, yet rewarding hike through juniper forests with a commanding view from its highest point.

Hiking Moderate

1 km
24 m
24 m
0-1 hrs
Low Point
795 m
High Point
815 m
Cliff Shelf Nature Trail Map

Of all the hikes in Badlands National Park, Cliff Shelf Nature Trail offers some of the best views for your efforts. Just a half-mile in length, "most hikers will fly through this short hike with soaring views," according to hikespeak.com.


A "lollipop" loop, the start of the loop is flat, easy, and even wheelchair friendly. The loop is more challenging, but still an easy hike by most standards. "The route to the left is gradual, sipping through a forest of juniper past an often-dry pond. The route to the right mountains a string of stairs, taking a more direct route to the viewing platform," continues hikespeak.com. From the viewing platform, if you look up, you'll be looking at the end of the Notch Trail(https://fatmap.com/routeid/1740511/NotchTrail), another excellent hike with spectacular views of the Badlands.

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail begins on Badlands Loop Road and has ample parking for a couple dozen cars. If you're driving a larger RV, bus, or trailer however, consider another hike such as the Door Trail or Notch Trail instead. Should you need water or a restroom, the Ben Riefel Visitor Center is just a few minutes west on the main road through the park.



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.


  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area