Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Particularly in the South Unit, there are numerous opportunities to jump on a trail right from the park road. The North and South units are connected by the 96-mi Maah Daah Hey Trail. Backcountry hiking is allowed, but you need a permit (free from any visitor center) to camp in the wild. Park maps are available at all three visitor centers. If you plan to camp overnight, let several people know about where you plan to pitch your tent, and inquire about river conditions, maps, regulations, trail updates, and additional water sources before setting out.
Buckhorn Trail. A thriving prairie-dog town is just 1 mi from the trailhead of this 11-mi North Unit trail. It travels over level grasslands, then it loops back along the banks of Squaw Creek. If you're an experienced hiker, you'll complete the entire trail in about half a day. Novices or families might want to plan on a whole day, however. Easy. Begins at the Caprock Coulee Nature Trail, 1½ mi west of the Juniper Campground, ND, 58640.
Little Mo Nature Trail. Flat and only 1.1-miles long, this trail in the North Unit passes through badlands and woodlands to the river's edge. The first 0.7 mile is wheelchair accessible. It's a great way to see the park's diverse terrain and wildlife, and because it shouldn't take you longer than an hour, it's a great trail for families with children. Easy. Begins at Juniper Campground in the North Unit, ND, 58640. www.nps.gov/thro.
Achenbach Trail. This 16-mi round-trip, moderate-to-difficult North Unit trail climbs through the Achenbach Hills, descends to the river and ends at Oxbow Overlook. Check with rangers about river-fording conditions. For a shorter (6-mi) hike to Oxbow, begin at the River Bend Overlook. This is an all-day trail. Moderate. Begins at Juniper Campground in the North Unit, ND, 58640.
Upper Caprock Coulee Trail. This 4.3-mile round-trip trail follows a loop around the pockmarked lower-badlands coulees. There's a slow incline that takes you up 300 feet. Portions of the trail are slippery. Beginners should plan a half day for this hike. Difficult. Begins 8 miles west of North Unit Visitor Center, ND, 58854. www.nps.gov/thro.
Maah Daah Hey Trail. Hike, bike, or ride horseback on the 96-mile and growing Maah Daah Hey Trail, the most popular and well-maintained trail in western North Dakota. An expansion project, completed in the summer of 2010, opened up new vistas that were previously inaccessible. The trail traverses both park units and the Little Missouri National Grasslands. Maps are available at the park visitor centers. Walking the entire trail is a true wilderness adventure and will probably take you at least five days. If you want to do something shorter, such as a two- or three-hour hike, leave from the South Unit and walk an hour or hour and a half in one direction, and then return. Moderate. Begins at Sully Creek State Park, 3 miles south of South Unit Visitor Center, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND. www.nps.gov/thro.
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