Where Will You Find South Dakota’s ‘Stairway to Nowhere?’
First of all, why do they call it a "stairway to nowhere"? Probably because when you get to the end of the trail, it drops away into nothingness, but with a great view!
Any thoughts? Well, if you guessed The Badlands - -you're absolutely right.
But this Notch Trail hike isn't for newbies, there is no boardwalk, just a dirt trail, and ultimately a steep wooden ladder, which isn't exactly easy to maneuver on your way back down. The hike is about a mile and a third, roundtrip, and the elevation rises 125 feet.
You're advised from the get-go by the wooden sign at the beginning of the trail, that it is "rough terrain" and to "wear sturdy boots". It is definitely not a flip-flop or croc stroll, but many give it a go in athletic shoes.
After you climb that wooden ladder bolted to the canyon wall you're just a few footsteps away from that giant area of nothingness with the amazing vistas. This tricky trail used to be hard to follow but after years of trekkers and the addition of posts and reflective markers, it is easier to navigate.
There are a few other reminders; the hike is not for those afraid of heights, or are balance-challenged, there are no guardrails, and it is not wheelchair accessible. There are no bathrooms along the trail and in the summer it can get pretty toasty, so make sure you have water and sunscreen, and maybe a hat too.