Badlands places you won’t believe

When is the last time you were able to shrug off the pressures of 2020?  You can in 2021 — especially at one of these Badlands places you won’t believe in North Dakota.

1. A quiet moment along the Little Missouri River

Your mind and your body will go “Ahhhh…” when you see things from one of these 5 spots. For example, that photo above is where a summer drive on the gravel backroads of western North Dakota can take you. It is deep in the rugged badlands, along the winding Little Missouri River. A short hike brought us to this view of the historic little river. Dreamy. The stillness was hypnotic. The hike was superb!

2. Get deep in one of the Badlands Places You Won’t Believe

Hiking is the best way to see Badlands places you won’t believe.  North of Killdeer is the Little Missouri River State Park. The canyons here are deeper than anywhere else in the North Dakota Badlands.  2021 looks good from here.

Just get out of your car, strap on your boots and take an easy walk on a marked trail in the Little Missouri River State Park.

The word “hike” can intimidate some people. So, just consider it a walk in the park. A state park!

There is no state park like this one.  There is no region in North Dakota as rugged as the last 10 or 12 miles of the Little Missouri River before it empties into the Missouri River.

(Also: Nearby recreation areas, such as the one near Dunn Center, North Dakota is more beautiful than you would believe.)

trail at Little Missouri River State Park

The Little Missouri River carved a deep route through the Little Missouri River State Park — and trails lead to massive vistas.


3. Take a gravel road trip to get to many Badlands places you won’t believe.


Some of the gravel roads in the Badlands will give you a road trip you won’t believe.  Miles of good gravel roads twisting up and down the contours of the Badlands, sometimes even crossing streams and creeks, give you a taste of what it used to be like to travel in the Badlands.

Here in northern Dunn County, not far from Killdeer the road winds past an old shed and pickup truck — visible reminders that this is working ranch country — and cattle are king here.

gravel road in the hills

Gravel Road Trip! Not far from the Little Missouri State Park — in Dunn County, parallel to the Little Missouri River.


4. Stay for sunset at one of the Badlands places you will not believe

It’s that last hour of daylight (or the first hour, too) when color change dramatically. As the sunsets, the landscape turns gold. 

You can actually see it happening when you are on a hilltop in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Then, comes the blue hour when magenta dominates the colors of the Badlands.

golden hour and blue hor

For only a few moments, the golden hour gives way to the blue hour. the first moments of the blue hour are seen as a magenta cast on the distant horizon of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


5. Breakfast in one of the Badlands places you won’t believe

Sure you can drive through or hike through one of the Badlands places you won’t believe. But there’s nothing like spending a night in a quiet historic place and then starting the day with coffee, eggs and an open fire.  At the Elkhorn Campground, breakfast is on Theodore Roosevelt’s ranch land.

Not many people see how good things look in the Badlands at breakfast time.


Thousands of square miles of North Dakota will blow away the stereotypical image many people seem to have of North Dakota: flat, sterile landscape. That’s why we think images like these alert people to the fact hat there are in the Badlands, places you will not believe are North Dakota.

One more!

Did you know North Dakota’s sequoia forest is apparent all over the Badlands!  Petrified rocks and stumps are fascinating.  Just wait until you walk to the Petrified Forest!  Click here to read about it. 

Shake off the 2020 Hangover

2021 could be the best year of your life — it will certainly seem better compared to the challenges of 2020.

One of the blessings of 2020, however, was the re-acquaintance many people made with the healthy outdoors where they and their families can social distance, get fresh air, sunshine and exercise. 2021 can build on that!

Let’s Make A Deal

Here’s the deal: Subscribe to this blog and we promise to show you seemingly endless varieties of Badlands places you will not believe are North Dakota.  You’ll be the first to know when a new story is posted if you subscribe. 

Book to come

In fact, you will be able to read the first chapter of the coming book about 50 attractions to enjoy in the North Dakota Badlands — before you kick the bucket. We’re posting chapters regularly. Click here to read the most recent chapter.  Subscribe to read them!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the North Dakota Badlands?

Generally, the Little Missouri River flows through the Badlands. It starts in Wyoming, cuts the corners of Montana and South Dakota, then slices the landscape northward toward Mandaree. So, starting as far south as Marmarth, ND the North Dakota Badlands run about 160 miles north.

Where can we camp in the North Dakota Badlands?

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What is the weather like in the North Dakota Badlands

Variable. That’s the best word. It can be 105 degrees or hotter in the summer. In winter, it can be well below zero. A constant weather element is wind wich can seem stronger in the valleys and on the hilltops of the Badlands.  Storms in the summer are frequent with heavy rain and hail. But the beauty of the Badlands weather is that if you get to a hilltop, you can see weather coming your way while it is still in Montana or South Dakota.