White Butte - North Dakota's Tallest Peak - An Incredible Unexpected Surprise
We just wanted to start off saying that this hike was one of the coolest unexpected surprises we've come across hiking mountains. We were driving through North Dakota and we decided to make a detour to White Buttes. We were in the area and it is of course on the list to complete our journey of summiting the highest peaks in the US, so, we had to go.
Topping off at 3,501 with a trail that only extends 3.5 miles with an elevation gain of 426 you can understand why our expectations of this weren't that high. Maybe that contributed for the surprise that we were in for. As we hiked our minds were completely blown by the beauty of this place. The super easy hike made the splendor that much more enjoyable. It is a wonderful marriage of Badlands, Prairie, and Tree Groves that is WAY beyond anything you could imagine. Needless to say, if you are passing through North Dakota and White Buttes isn't too far out of the way, you need to check this place out. It is super cool!!!
The trailhead is located here:
There is a parking lot at the end of this road and you can see White Butte miles and miles away. It is the only natural structure around and this place is literally in the middle of nowhere. There is no trash or bathrooms so pack it in pack it out.
The Adventure Begins
The trail starts off the far side of the lot by crossing through a really cool gate with a horse shoe latch. Another really cool little thing that added to this unexpected journey. As you wander down the path a little way maybe about a 1/4 mile you see all the badlandish formations. They are really beautiful.
After the first scramble up the trail levels out. This little stretch is not long at all. After it levels out most of the trail is through prairie/grass lands. It was an unexpected change of scene from the badlands area and the two areas are distinctly different. There is a spot where you come onto a saddle and overlook a lush tree grove, too. It totally blew our mind!!! WOW!!!
Again, like we said, we weren't expecting much out of this hike. Among the many times our minds were blown at how cool this hike was. The summit blew our minds even more. From the summit you can see four distinctly different geological formations. It is breath taking... And the silence is like nothing I've ever heard before. There are no trees around for the wind to make noise in, no airplanes flying over head, and no car traffic anywhere! WOW WOW WOW!!!
Seriously, this journey was such an amazing surprise and easily made it's way to my (Billy) top ten hike list. There were too many wonderful little details that blew our minds to not get on there. If you are in the area it is a must go! I wouldn't go way out of your way for it unless you are doing the tallest peaks in the US. Bring water and the basics. It is a super short hike so time of day or anything like that won't matter much. It is not a very high trafficked place, which was another detail that made it even more wonderful. Enjoy your adventure!!!
As always safe travels, be adventurous, and pack it in pack it out!