Hikes in South Dakota

South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, is a sparsely populated state offering much for outdoor enthusiasts to explore. The Black Hills are a small but significant mountain range in the southwest corner of the state, famous for pine forests and granite formations. Mount Rushmore National Monument, Wind Caves National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer State Park, and Crazy Horse Memorial are all popular destinations in the Black Hills.

Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial is a work in progress

East of the Black Hills, the Badlands don’t look like the rest of the Great Plains. French trappers named this land “les mauvaises terres à traverser.” There is no doubt that this rough terrain of eroded spires and pinnacles would have been hell for early explorers to cross. The contrast of Badlands buttes and surrounding prairie grasses make this a very dramatic national park. Today, roadways make it easy to explore and enjoy the Badlands, even if you have limited time.

Hiking South Dakota

Door TrailDoor Trail in Badlands National Park
This one-mile hike passes through a gap in Badlands Wall to a viewing platform followed by a cross-country path into the rugged badlands.
Window TrailWindow Trail in Badlands National Park
This level 0.25-mile round trip hike leads to an opening in Badlands Wall overlooking the rugged landscape beyond.
Notch TrailNotch Trail in Badlands National Park
This adventurous 1 1/3-mile hike travels up a badlands canyon to an elevated overlook with views over the Great Plains.
Cliff Shelf Nature TrailCliff Shelf Nature Trail in Badlands National Park
This half-mile hike loops through a juniper forest on the south side of the Badlands Wall, reaching a viewpoint below the notch.
hikespeak
Cliff Shelf Nature Trail Badlands National Park hike
Beneath the natural fortress known as Badlands Wall, Cliff Shelf Nature Trail presents easy access to South Dakota's badlands and has views across the Great Plains. This pleasant half-mile lollipop loop passes through a juniper forest elevated along the Badlands Wall, a 100-mile long ridge spanning across the park. The start of the loop is wheelchair friendly, but there... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: | |
Distance: 0.5 miles – Elevation change: 300 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: September 19, 2014
Notch Trail Badlands National Park hike Notch Hike South Dakota
This trek travels up a badlands canyon to an overlook with massive views over the Great Plains. The hike is 1.33 miles round trip with 125 feet of elevation gain. There is no boardwalk to follow on this hike, just a dirt trail and a steep wooden ladder. Notch Trail also traces a cliff's edge so it is not a good option for hikers with a fear of heights. For those... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: |
Distance: 1.33 miles – Elevation change: 125 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: September 19, 2014
Door Trail Badlands National Park hike
The door on this trail is an opening in Badlands Wall that introduces hikers to a rugged world. While nearby Window Trail allows visitors to look over the wall, Door Trail lets you walk through it. A short boardwalk takes hikers through a natural passageway to a viewing platform on the other side. Beyond that, follow a level path across the formidable landscape to... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: |
Distance: 1 mile – Elevation change: 50 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: September 19, 2014
Window Trail Badlands National Park hike South Dakota
You don't need glass to have a window. All you need is a large opening like the one found in Badlands Wall at the end of this short trail in Badlands National Park. Window Trail is a quarter mile round trip with just ten feet of elevation gain - an easy hike that is suitable for all.Three hikes begin from this trailhead, Window Trail, Door Trail, and Notch Trail.... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: |
Distance: 0.25 miles – Elevation change: 10 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 23, 2014