Family Adventures in the Badlands: Part 2 | Black Hills Travel Blog
  • Family Adventures in the Badlands: Part 2

Our first stop was to explore Door Trail.  The path started out a boardwalk that wrapped around a huge rock formation and lead to a vast open area of smaller rock formations and crevasses.

The terrain was easily traversed.  I held my 3 year old daughter's hand most of the time as the terrain was uneven and she tripped a few times.  My 7 year old nimbly hopped from rock to rock, feeling like quite the big explorer.  The kids turned finding the next, unobtrusive, trail marker into a game.  Nine markers in all before the trail end marker kept them on their toes!

The view was grand; simply awe inspiring.  The different colors of the formations, the varying textures of the rock, holes, caves, distant peaks surrounding this extraordinary place all made this place a joy to take in.  It instilled a sense of peace in us and the feeling itself is equally part of the memories as the scenes themselves.

We took in this view for a while, frankly disappointed that the trail was not longer, despite the clear impossibility of that option!  We then headed back to our vehicle and decided to try out Saddleback Trail.

A very short drive took us to the trail head.  We took photos of the formations along the way as it was all so different and lovely.  We geared up with our camelbacks, camera and some snacks for the kids and began the trail.

Saddleback Trail is, indeed, steep.  It was easily navigated by our 7 year old but I was a bit more cautious with our 3 year old.  I kept them both in front of us the whole time.  The path had loose rock/dirt and so was a bit slippery.  Overall we had no issues ascending the path; making sure to stop and take in the scenic overviews as our altitude increased.

The rocks near the top seemed to be from another world.  My son called them meteorites and space rocks.  We were all fascinated by them and we felt as if we were on the moon, or mars or some unexplored planet.

The real shock was when we reached the top.  The world shifted and, to our surprise, we were not facing a steep incline on the other side, but a level plateau.  To one direction we looked out over the landscape far below us and the path we had just climbed and the other an open prairie.  It was quite the sight.

The decision was made to extend our hike and to not take the kids back down the steep path of Saddleback Trail.  We parted with husband who did descend the trail, and my children and I headed toward Castle Trail.  My husband moved our vehicle to the trailhead for Castle Trail and started the trail towards us.  I was very comfortable with how well the trails were marked.

My kids and I followed the path and junction with Castle Trail - Medicine Loop Trail.   We set out on Castle Trail and had large rock formations to view, grasslands with gorgeous tiny flowers, cactus patches and a variety of plant life.  We came across clearings decorated with the most amazing variety of rocks that seemed entirely out of place in such am environment.

We took photos and admired the rocks, the tall rock formations and the crevasses we encountered next.

I both appreciated and cursed the cloud cover we received that afternoon as it cooled us down but also flattened out the light that would have dramatized our surroundings further.

Finally, my husband appeared along the trail which caused us to back track and share with him some of our favorite sights along the way.

Atop a ridge we spied a big horn sheep and admired him as he, most assuredly, kept his eyes on us.  We watched the little birds dance through the air and listened to their beautiful songs.  We caught sight of {chipmunks} - know that's not right name- scurrying along the rock formations and were fortunate enough to find a pack of deer bounding across the prairie near sunset.

The trail was completed close to near sunset, watching the sky change dramatically as we crossed flat lands, boardwalks and crevasses.  It was an amazing trek.  Our children loved it and were able to keep up and handle the hike.  I did carry my little one for a short time, but overall I was very impressed with their endurance and interest in the surroundings and nature.

My family has fallen in love with the Badlands and are eager to explore its beauty further the very next chance we get.

About the Author

Shawna is a mother of two and professional photographer in the Black Hills region.  Being originally from out of state, she has been taken by the beauty of the Black Hills and intends to experience as much of it as she can.  With her camera and children she sets off...

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