A warm summer day, bright blue skies and puffy white clouds made a near strenuous hike well worth the effort. Elevation 3430 ft. Western North Dakota. Read about the unbelievable vistas from atop Sentinel Butte here.
Color in the Badlands of North Dakota
The term badlands conjures up a mental image of desolation to some people. Let’s face it. Those badlands are called badlands for a reason! While there can be dry, parched vistas in the badlands areas of western North Dakota, the scenery is most often not desolate, or bare.
The beautiful June grasslands of the badlands region of North Dakota contrasts with dark blue skies and storms on the horizon, in Montana. You’ll find a story about a surprise cattle drive and branding in these beautiful hills here.
As green grass begins to appear beneath the weathered, wintered grass, Pasque Flowers (prairie crocus) begin to peak up towards the warm sun! These were a treasured early spring find on Summit Trail in the Beautiful Badlands of North Dakota. Beautiful snow landscapes begin to come to life in March and April, and this is the result!
As green grass begins to appear beneath the weathered wintered grass, Pasque Flowers (prairie crocus) begin to peak up towards the warm sun! These were a treasured early spring find on Summit Trail in the Beautiful Badlands of North Dakota. Learn more about these beautiful spring flowers here.
Once late spring is ushering in summer, the Badlands of North Dakota can absolutely glow with green! Get lost in these emerald landscapes!
Square Butte, elevation 3346 ft., as seen looking east from Sentinel Butte, elevation 3430 ft. are two of the highest points of land in North Dakota. The brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds later turned into lightening filled thunderstorms in the badlands, by which time we were safely in our Jeep exploring red scoria backroads in western North Dakota. Make sure you find out about this summer adventure here.
The private property surrounding the ghost town of Mondak is marked with foundations of the buildings that once stood here in the “Wildest Town of the Wild West.” The history of this notorious little outlaw town can be found here.
The Long X Bridge was constructed in 1959 when Highway 85 was rerouted at the Little Missouri River, south of Watford City and north of Grassy Butte, North Dakota. It replaced the Roosevelt Bridge, which was to the west . Construction of a new four lane bridge to replace the Long X Bridge began in 2019. Read the history of the building of the bridges over the Little Missouri in McKenzie County, North Dakota (and discover the story of a world class bronc riding cowboy!) here.
Many times I’ve driven the scenic loop in the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota, and each time I’ve come to the T in the road, I’ve been tempted to take a right turn to follow a gravel road to cross the north boundary, just to see what I could see on the other side of the park. Each time I was stopped by either foreboding weather, or the condition of the gravel (considering I was on a motorcycle), or the intrusion of a large, not-so-friendly-looking bison which didn’t think I should turn that direction. This time, however, the timing was right. That is, correct. With a Forest Service map as our guide, we followed the Little Missouri River north, and found beautiful green pastures beneath bluffs which glowed in the afternoon sunlight. A right turn that was, at a perfect time! Read more about backroads explorations here.
If there is one critter prevalent throughout western North Dakota, it’s the prairie dog. Cute and ‘cuddly’ to some, vermin to others, these little guys constantly entertain, and detain, tourists, with their animated antics. Click here to find more photos of badlands wildlife!
In the heart of the badlands of North Dakota is a hidden gem (to most). A favorite camp ground of ours is nestled in a heavily treed and thus very shaded area near Magpie Creek, southwest of Grassy Butte, north of Medora. The campground serves as a good overnight stop for those riding or hiking the Maah Daah Hey Trail, being between the Ice Caves and Devils Pass. The Magpie trailhead for that system is near here, on the gravel road which leads to the campground, and further. Look for signage on US Highway 85 at Lower Magpie Road, south of Grassy Butte and north of Fairfield. The views here, the quiet, peaceful landscape are second to none. Fires nearly destroyed this area! Find out about fires which blazed in this beautiful area here.
Summer in the badlands and grasslands of western North Dakota and eastern Montana can yield a world of emerald green against a vibrant background of blue summer skies. Learn about Chimney Butte here.
Those who travel only on paved roads miss out on some of the most beautiful vistas! Blessed is the rancher who has this view from his kitchen window! Dunn County, North Dakota. Discover how the Killdeer Mountains became famous, its rodeo!, here.
A late season sunset at the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park throws sun rays across the sky as the valley dips in to shadows. In the middle left of the image is one of the most frequently photographed buildings in the state, the overlook shelter at the park. Experience more beauty of the North Unit here.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is now a historic site, partly part of Theodore Roosevelt Nation Park and part as a North Dakota State Historic Site. From the porch of Theodore Roosevelt’s ranch home, this is the same scene he experienced. Peace, quiet, calm. That’s what you ‘ll find at the Elkhorn Ranch, northwest of Medora, North Dakota.
Read about the Elkhorn Ranch here.
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Buffalo, or American Bison, roam freely in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Some visitors think they’re tame. They are not. But they will stand still as you slowly drive by and take their photo out the car window. Find out about our nearly unbelievable bison encounter here. (it was our wedding day!!!)