"Cliff Shelf Trail" Badlands National Park Travelogue by Toughluck

Badlands National Park Travel Guide: 150 reviews and 429 photos

Shelfs are created when the underlying soil washes out and collapses the soils from above. The collapsed soil is denser and holds water longer than the surrounding areas. Thus, large plants can begin to grow. You'll be able to spot small shelfs through out the park, once you've seen the Cliff Shelf.

The Eastern Red Cedar or Juniper are a pioneer tree and about the largest that can grow in this pocket of moisture. Down along the rivers, you'll see cottonwoods, where their roots can burrow deep down to regular water sources, but here on the shelf, it's small oaks and the red cedar.

Looking across the badlands from the shady cedar grove.

  • Page Updated May 9, 2016
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