Nestled in the vast and wide open plains of western North Dakota is Little Missouri State Park. True outdoor enthusiasts may feel as though they have died and gone to heaven when they arrive at this tiny state park. This picturesque park is located along the Little Missouri River, roughly three hours west from two of North Dakota’s biggest cities. Little Missouri State Park is around three and a half hours south west of Minot and three hours north west of the capital city of Bismarck. The town of Killdeer is the nearest population center, located just 17 miles south of the park.
Little Missouri State Park offers outdoor enthusiasts a truly unique landscape to enjoy. Located in what is known as the Little Missouri Breaks Country, the park and its surrounding landscape was formed over time by the forces of sand, water, and wind. The region takes its name from the native Sioux tribes who referred to the area as “Mako Shika,” or “where the land breaks.”
This western portion of North Dakota offers visitors a unique combination of wooded areas and northern portions of the Badlands. The formation of the region left behind a little bit of everything for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Those who favor a true outdoor experience will find themselves at home at Little Missouri State Park where vehicles are few and far between, and the preferred methods of transportation are on foot or horseback.
The park features over 40 miles of trails that are ideal for backpacking on foot or horseback riding. In fact, the vast majority of the park is not even accessible by car. Visitors can get as far as the entrance in their vehicle, but must explore the wonders of Little Missouri State Park in a different manner as motorized vehicles are not allowed on trails. The park has a grading system to inform guests of trail difficulty so they know what lies ahead. The following is the park’s trail grading system:
• Green Trails: These are the easiest in the park and offer gradual inclines, wide paths, and great panoramic views.
• Blue Trails: These trails feature slightly steeper terrains and extend deeper into the park.
• Black Trails: The hardest trails at Little Missouri State Park, the Black Trails are much longer and steeper than the other trail systems. They are only for experienced hikers and riders as they often traverse narrow, high ridgelines.
Day trippers are not the only ones who will find what they are looking for at Little Missouri State Park. The park also has campsites available for those who wish to spend more time at the park. In keeping with the rustic feel of the park, many of the campsites do not have electrical connections; however there are a few campsites available that do have electrical power.
Affordability has to be one of the best features of Little Missouri State Park. Visitors are asked to pay the following rates to access the park:
• Entrance fee: $5 per vehicle per day or $25 for an annual pass
• Campsites: $10/night for campsites without electricity; $12/night for campsites with electricity
• Horses: $6/day allows for access to corrals and trails
Little Missouri State Park is the perfect destination for those looking to connect with nature and take on the challenge of the rugged Badlands. Those interested in further information should visit the official parks website for North Dakota at www.parkrec.nd.gov. Anyone interested in receiving help in planning their trip or learning about other services should visit Badlands Trail Rides (www.badlandstrailrides.com) for more information.