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.
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.
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 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.
Capitol Rock — The Official National Landmark
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.
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.
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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