More Badlands National Park

As the interesting part of our August roadtrip vacation was coming to a close, we had a rare full day in the same camping spot -- no leaving during the day for the next destination! Enjoying the sunrise on this day that promised to be warmer than we had hoped for, we made our plans for the morning.

It was similar to the plans we had made almost every morning: hiking. Only the details were different, but it's those details that are important, right? So much to show today, so I'll jump right in.


The view as I walked out the RV door:

A nice scene to enjoy while eating a quick breakfast!

Although we had to drive to the parking lot just a mile or so away, there were three hiking opportunities here. The first was literally a 5-minute walk (at most) on a raised boardwalk to a great view:

This was the "Window Trail", aptly named as you are essentially looking through a "window" in a wall of rock to see this.

Such beauty!

Behind us was a different type of rock, less red, less jagged, still beautiful:

One thing that may not be clear from these photos is the size of these formations. They're not huge. Here's a shot for scale:

The rocks here seemed soft, like dried mud:

And by "here" I mean "everywhere"!

And by "seemed soft" that's what I mean. They're not actually soft. (It's not granite, but it's definitely rock.)

There were two other trails here. The "door trail" was another short one, but instead of ending at a railing like the "window trail" did, this one lets you get out onto the rocks:

I think you can go as far as you want out there... (You're clicking these panoramic shots to enlarge them, right?)

Hiking over this landscape would be exhausting I think, although there seems to be plenty of green to enjoy here, at least at the start:

Finally, we headed for the "Notch Trail", which we knew would be longer and involve a bit more effort. Here's what we were heading into:

Wait. That could just be a side "canyon" off the main trail. Maybe this is the right photo:

Yep, that's better. The trail is at the left side of that shot, marked by vertical poles every so often. Without them it would have been really hard to know where the path to follow was at times.

Although there was plenty of plant life near the opening of this canyon...

Opuntia hidden in grass is a nasty thing. diminished and eventually dwindled to essentially nothing as we progressed -- as you'll see.

There was a warning that this trail involved a ladder, and we got to it after a while:

It doesn't seem too high from the bottom...

But in fact, it was fairly intimidating from the top!

Here's the view we had once we got up here:

You can see our RV in the parking lot! (Seemed like we went a lot farther than this!)

Here's the trail we already covered:

And this is what was ahead of us:

That's where the flora ended, except for isolated pockets in crevices.

(Lots of photos of rocks should be here, but I was focused on traversing the rocky ground.)

We eventually reached the end of the trail, which gave us an amazing view over the edge of a cliff:

There's the campground on the right side of the panorama, just above the hills. Here's a closer look:

The view in the other direction wasn't so inspirational, but we sat here for a little while and rested before heading back out.

The nice thing about retracing your steps when hiking is that you can take photos of the things you missed (or chose not to image) on the way out.

I'll show you that trip back in the next installment. Hope you like rocks.


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Curbstone Valley Farm  – (October 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM)  

Such stunning scenery! I don't know you could leave. Seeing that Opuntia hidden in the grass though certainly makes the point that hiking in sandals is usually not a good idea. I love that log ladder/staircase going up the slope. I could use something like that here. What a nifty idea!

Alan  – (October 7, 2013 at 9:34 PM)  

Curbstone: It gets a bit bleak after a while, and I started missing green, and trees. Hiking in sandals? Yikes.

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