About the Site
Badlands National Park  


Park History

Pinnacles Overlook

Overlooks (North)

Overlooks (Central)

Overlooks (South)

Big Badlands Overlook

Door & Window


Cedar Pass Lodge

Cedar Pass Area

Badlands Loop Road

Norbeck Pass

Fossil Exhibit Trail

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

Other Trails



Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

One unique area in the park is the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail. This trail is found east of Cedar Pass along the Badlands Loop Road. It is located about half a mile up the road through the pass from the visitor center area.

The trail is a loop which begins next to a parking lot next to the Badlands Loop Road and climbs higher onto the shelf. It has a boardwalk in places and features stairs on the steeper sections.

The area through which the trail passes was created when an enormous block of stone fell from the cliffs of The Wall. The collapse of the cliff created a flat shelf in this area. The stone which fell was compacted, causing it to retain water far more than the soft, porous rock in most of the park.

The trail passes through the "slump", where sections of the sections of the cliffs have fallend down the face of the wall. The slump actually continues to slip downward toward the lower prairie, especially during the wet season.

An area like this where the cliff has collapsed is called a "slump." This area is is one of the largest slumps in the park.

Most of the land in Badlands National Park is quite arid, but the water retention qualities of the rock in the trail area creates an oasis of trees and dense stand of foliage and vegetation. As can be seen here trees can be found in these areas.

The area includes juniper trees, prairie grass, and some cattails.

The permanent grove of trees which the water makes possible here also makes possible a range of wildlife.

The cliff along the north edge of the Cliff Shelf area is called Millard Ridge.

For potential visitors, ParkVision recommends "Story Behind the Scenery" guides and "Trails Ilustrated" maps.

This ridge is named after Ben Millard, who built and ran the visitor facilities at Cedar Pass, worked with Peter Norbeck on the idea of making the area a national park, and was essentially the park's first naturalist.

The area provides views of the Cedar Pass area where the Cedar Pass Lodge, visitor center, and other visitor facilities are located.

This area also provides views of the White River Valley. The White River drains all of the area in the park south of the Wall.

There are some rock formations in the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

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