North Dakota’s Little Missouri State Park sits in the Badlands

Jimmy Smith takes in the Badlands and Missouri River from the North Dakota Little Missouri State Park.  (Julianne G. Crane)
Little Missouri State Park attracts equestrians and provides numerous corrals on the campground. 

We arrived at North Dakota’s Little Missouri State Park late on a foggy and rainy afternoon after a torturous 8-hour day driving.

We always favor two-lane highways whenever possible, but traveling on US 2 through northeast Montana this time was excruciating. There were numerous construction projects–one stretch was 16 miles of mud and huge potholes.  With the rolling storm system plaguing the High Plains and Midwest,  the roads were a mess. All travelers creeped along covered in mud.

The fog lifted, to reveal an amazing view of the Badlands. (Julianne G. Crane)

The final 50 or 60 miles into the campground were through a misty fog. After finding the campground several miles down a gravel road around 4:30 p.m., we backed into our site along a split rail fence.

The next morning, when the fog lifted, we were amazed by the breathtaking views. Rugged landscapes and waterways, including Lake Sakakawea, run through this section of the Badlands.

Really nice hot showers $1. No flush toilets, vault only in separate buildings. (Julianne G. Crane)

The remote park appeals to hikers, hunters and horse people. It features several corrals and a round pen. There are more than 45 miles of trails that run through this picturesque state park.

Cost for camping is only $15 with electricity. There are also primitive campsites for $12. The Little Missouri State Park is open seasonally from May to October.

Oil wells are everywhere in North Dakota. This facility was one of several adjacent to the Little Missouri park. Equipment runs all night. (Julianne G. Crane)

Park literature states: “This quiet park is a perfect place to explore the North Dakota backcountry and experience what it truly means to unplug…. it is a quiet oasis.” Well, maybe once, but that must have been before the oil and natural gas boom in North Dakota.

Around the clock, within visual and sound distance of our site, at least three flare stacks were constantly burning and emitting rumbling noises. There were no “quiet hours” observed next door to this campground.

While the park has much natural beauty that is appealing, however, we will not be returning because of closeness of the fire stacks.

Photos and text: Julianne G. Crane

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