Western road trips are all about the journey. It’s all about getting to some place where you would otherwise not visit.  These three western road trips will take you through different cultures, different badlands and different prairies –and with all the unusual stops along the way, making a western road trip a gold mine of adventure.

Robin Reynolds invites people to learn how to turn Badlands clay into pottery.
www.ndclay.com

 

On your North Dakota road trip, on the way to the Badlands you can find artists and way-stops along the way, such as Dacotah Clayworks in Hebron or the earth lodges near New Town, or the culturally distinct food of the Four Corners Cafe.

      • Highway 22, the state’s most scenic byway.
      • Old Highway 16, a back road for trade, wagons, cattle and people.
      • I-94, three badlands in one day.

 

 

 

A Blacktop Road Trip — Scenic Highway 22 

 

Starting out in a Bohemian culture, going through historic cowboy country and ending up in the home of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people.

scenic highway 22 earth lodg

The earth lodges are the last cultural stop on the Scenic Highway 22 road trip that began in Dickinson.

This is a true western road trip — seeing more of the west than any movie will show. Three distinct cultures, beautiful scenery, and all without leaving the 64 miles of highway 22.  The Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway starts in Dickinson and ends up near New Town at the Four Bears Bridge.

four bears bridge scenic highway 22 north dakota badlands

Four Bears Bridge ends this scenic highway road trip.

Along the way are opportunities to pull off the highway and get closer to history at the Killdeer Mountains.

Or get closer to the most rugged region of North Dakota, the Little Missouri State Park. At the north end, visit the world class mile-long Four Bears Bridge to enjoy history, art and engineering.

 

 

 

A Backroads Road Trip — Old Highway 16, the Marmarth-Camp Crook road

Get out and get dusty on this North Dakota road trip. It was a travel route long before you or I were born.

Our exploration of Old Highway 16, once a major road connecting Marmarth and Beach in far western North Dakota revealed many enthralling scenic vistas. When we stopped near Pretty Butte for a hike and a picnic, we discovered this small area which seemed so distinctive against the prairie grasslands. Other worldly? Perhaps! Join us in our Highway 16 adventures here: https://wp.me/p8zmWn-593 Purchase this photo here: http://bit.ly/3pDREOH

Old Highway 16, once a major road connecting Marmarth and Beach in far western North Dakota, reveals scenic vistas like this one near Pretty Butte.

Start at the north, just east of Beach, head south through Golva, past the abandoned towns of Alpha and Thelan to historic Marmarth

Fine Dining at historic Marmarth and the Past Time supper club.

Good food is here at Marmarth, and so is an unknown car museum.

Then, continue your western road trip by going south to Camp Crook and Capitol Rock, past amazing white spires, peaks and ridges to come in on the north side of Belle Fourche.

This rock formation forms the dome of the capitol at Capitol Rock, west of Camp Crook, South Dakota. July 14, 2020

Capitol Rock, west of Camp Crook, South Dakota.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Badlands Road Trip — North Dakota Badlands, Makoshika Badlands, Terry Badlands

An Interstate road trip takes one day to discover three badlands and two states.

Painted Canyon Rest Area is a popular spot for selfies, and group photos in the North Dakota Badlands..

They share prehistoric history of dinosaurs, modern history of Native American culture, and photographic opportunities of the most scenic landscape in western North Dakota and eastern Montana.

The far end of Boicourt Trail in the North Dakota Badlands reaches a narrow point overlooking the valley interior.

Makoshika state park

Badlands formations make up the bulk of Makoshika State Park near Glendive, Montana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get ready to use your hiking boots because you will want to get out of your car and traipse over the paths and trails in the huge North Dakota Badlands, the fossil rich Makoshika Badlands and the Wilderness Study Area of the Terry Badlands.

Take your camera and record regions of the United States that very few people know about — but you can visit in one day.

terry badlands

The prairie is abruptly broken by the leading edge of the Terry Badlands, north of Terry, Montana.

A one-lane auto bridge across the Yellowstone River was a Milwaukee Road rail line that is famous for it’s wrecks, it’s accomplishments and its famous people who rode it to get here from back east.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Western Road Trips are Popular

Road trips are memory makers. They are increasingly popular for people who have little time to spend vacationing for days but who want to get out and get away.

Easy to do before summer ends and school begins. 

They’re relatively inexpensive, for about the cost of a tank of gas.

They provide incentive for future destination visits.

What to Take With you on your Western Road Trip

      • Water,
      • snacks,
      • maps, 
      • cell phone,
      • camera,
      • charging cords/batteries,
      • companions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good North Dakota Badlands map?

The best map we’ve found is the U.S. Forest Service map.  You can pick up a copy at the Western Edge Bookstore in Medora, the Forest Service office at Watford City, or the Forest Service office in Bismarck.

Are there street signs in the Badlands?

Yes and no. Many of the roads are marked with traditionally green street sign posts.  Some are labeled with brown Forest Service Roads.  Others just have a brown sign with a number on them, which are Forest Service road numbers.  In many cases, maps and the occasionally trustworthy Google Maps service can tell  you where you are.

Is there cell phone service in the Badlands?

Usually from the tops of hills you can connect with a tower somewhere.  Anything lower than hill tops means you will likely not get cell phone service.

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