Numerous hiking trails provide a closer look at the Badlands for those adventurous enough to leave the confines of their vehicles. All developed trails start from parking areas within 5 miles of the Ben Reifel Visitor Center at Cedar Pass.
Castle Trail -- Winding some 5 miles (10 miles round-trip) through the mixed-grass prairie and badlands, this is the longest developed trail in the park and runs parallel to some interesting formations. The fairly level trail connects the Fossil Exhibit Trail and the Door and Window parking area. Just walking this trail a short distance from the parking area brings the hiker close to outstanding formations. Walk the Castle Trail from the Door parking area in the early morning for wonderful views of the formations. Walk a bit farther in the late day for beautiful color and patterns. To make this a loop, follow the signs and turn off onto the well-marked Medicine Root Trail. The trail is not heavily used, making it an ideal spot to escape the crowds, but it can be treacherous during and just after a heavy rain and, with no tree cover, can be hot on some summer days. 10 miles RT. Moderate. Access: Trail heads at Fossil Exhibit Trail and at Door Trail parking area.
Cliff Shelf Nature Trail -- This popular trail takes you through a "slump" area where a good supply of water supports an oasis of green, which stands out in contrast to the stark badlands formations. You can pick up a brochure describing a self-guided excursion at the Visitor Center desk. The trail includes some steep sections and boardwalk stairs. Its parking lot cannot accommodate RVs towing other vehicles. .5 mile RT. Moderate. Access: .5 mile north of Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Door Trail -- This trail winds through some of the "baddest" of the Badlands. The first 100 yards to a beautiful view at "The Door" are mostly downhill and accessible, with assistance, to those in wheelchairs. The more rugged section takes off to the right of the viewing area; striped posts mark the way, indicating the safest route. .6 mile RT. Moderate. Access: 2 miles northeast of Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Fossil Exhibit Trail -- This easy boardwalk loop will give you an idea of what animal life was like 30 million years ago. Wheelchair accessible. .25 mile RT. Easy. Access: 5 miles northwest of Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
Notch Trail -- This trail takes you up a wash between the buttes, up a 45-degree angle wood-and-rope ladder, a climb that may rattle those afraid of heights. Follow the wash to the "Notch"; you'll find a striking view over the Cliff Shelf area and the White River Valley. 1.5 miles RT. Moderate. Access: North end of Door Trail parking area.
Saddle Pass Trail -- In less than .25 mile, this trail rises steeply 200 feet from the bottom of the Badlands Wall to the top, connecting with the Castle and Medicine Root trails. It's impassable after rains, so ask about trail conditions at the visitor center before you set out. .5 mile RT. Moderate to strenuous. Access: Branches off Castle Trail just west of intersection with Medicine Root Trail and leads to Badlands Loop Rd.
Window Trail -- A 100-yard boardwalk trail leads to a spectacular view through a "window," or opening, in the Badlands Wall. Wheelchair accessible. .25 mile RT. Easy to moderate. Access: Trail head at center of Door Trail parking area.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.