If you have never been to badlands, never seen pictures of them, or never heard of them, you will find yourself amazed by them. They seem to be out of this world, like a moonscape. We had already seen some badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota however it still didn’t prepare us for the immense volume and grandeur of the Badlands National Park. It was beautifully desolated.

It was hot there. The 1st day we were there, it was 109F at 2PM. We waited until the next morning to go for a hike as we usually like to hike for a minimum of two hours and it was not wise to hike in heat. Badlands near Notch TrailWe picked the Notch Trail because it was only about 1.5 miles so we would have a lot of time to explore the trail and the area around it before it would get too hot.

The trailhead also had trails leading to the Door and Window trails. We warmed up by taking the short Window trail first to get a great view of an intricately eroded canyon. There were many rattlesnake signs to warn unwary tourists. Stairway to Heaven, Badland, Notch TrailAny chance of snake sightings would always get me agitated and cautious; we decided to take our hiking poles as safety measures.

We started off the Notch trail by winding through a canyon. Susan with Bryden climbing stairs at Notch Trails, Badlands NPBadlands got the name because pioneers found them to be hard to navigate through and we soon discovered the reason. About a half way through the canyon, we noticed some people were hiking at the top of the canyon above and ahead of us. We were wondering how they got up to the top and soon we found out how: there was a steep ladder about 100 feet tall. I took Kadia by hand up the ladder. The last 20 feet were too steep to walk together side-by-side. Kadia with no fear, climbed up the rest of the way herself. Susan & Kada on Notch Trail, BadlandsSusan, with her fear of heights, scrambled up with Bryden on her back. It wasn’t difficult climbing up but, later on, on the way back down the ladder, she was shaking with fear: every step took many seconds.

The trail up on the canyon provided us a great view of the canyon we just hiked in.
Hiking at Notch Trail, Badlands NPIn some places, Looking down at the Notch Trail, Badlands NPit was a little treacherous so I had to keep a good hold of Kadia’s hand and we were glad that we brought our hiking poles. There were very few people on this trail and we felt like we owned the place, exploring through some of the side canyons there, enjoying ourselves. At the end of the trail, we arrived at the Notch above the Cliff Shelf with a great view of White River Valley. We waved to some people down at the Cliff Shelf nature trail and had the feeling that we were in heaven. This was a great and fun hike. Next time we will do some fossils hunting as well; maybe we can come face to face with a dinosaur and not blink.Ralph and Kadia having fun at Notch Trail