Before there was Google maps. Before there was Rand McNally.  People got around the rugged beautiful badlands by naming and recognizing landmarks.  They carry descriptive names, and if you use your imagination, you can see why.

Battleship Butte

Imagine a ship in the Badlands. Battleship Butte welcomes visitors to the In the North Unit.  It’s north of the scenic road across from Juniper Campground. The Cannonball Concretions trail — very family friendly — follows the base of Battleship Butte.

This one might be a little harder to see. Use your imagination.

Battleship Butte at TRNP North Unit. park road on left, blue sky in summer

Battleship Butte, North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, near Watford City, ND

Castle Rock

Castle Rock is farther south of the TR National Park, near where the Maah Daah Hey trail crosses Magpie Road.   It introduces travelers to at least two Beautiful Badlands roads, and stands just up the road from Magpie Campground.

The famous Castle Rock marks the entrance into the expansive Magpie Valley where you will find a trail and a campground.

Camel’s Hump

The next landmark that looks like its name is Camels Hump. I have a little trouble seeing this one, but TR knew it. It’s a useful landmark for getting to the Elkhorn Ranch, and so with it TR marked his trail between his ranch and Medora or Dickinson.

Camel Hump Butte in the winter with a gravel road

As a winter storm builds to the north, a break in the clouds allows Camel Hump to shine against the dark sky.

Capitol Rock — The Official National Landmark

Capital Rock is a National Historic Landmark. It got its name because it looks like the U.S. Capital

The fourth landmark is Capitol Rock. It’s just west of the slow and patient Little Missouri River — the river that lays at the bottom of the Beautiful Badlands. If one were to follow the Little Missouri River to its source, starting at Mandaree, the route would go through Marmarth, and on to Camp Crook.  There to the west of Camp Crook is Capital Rock.  Of the four landmarks, Capital Rock is probably the most nearly like its namesake.

Chimney Rock

There is one more badlands landmark, about an hour west of Medora at Terry Montana. Chimney Rock also was a landmark used by T Roosevelt when he hunted and worked cattle in the Terry Badlands.

Follow the off-road trail west of Terry, Montana, into the Terry Badlands to catch a glimpse of Chimney Rock.

You know, each one of these has a story — or someone’s stories have each one of these.  

There’s been a lotta cattle driven past these places. Bison too.

Now, put them on you bracket list so you can tell your stories.

Then send your photos of landmarks that look like their name. 

Thanks for reading.

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