Little Missouri State Park features some of the most picture-perfect scenery depicting the Badlands. It’s a rather primitive park that contains many parts that are only accessible on foot or on horseback. But that's all part of its undeveloped charm. The landscape is sculpted with formations that offer some of North Dakota’s most awe-inspiring scenery.
If you’re looking for a rugged oasis, they don't come much better than this. Getting a taste of the backcountry is easy out here. It is, hands down, some of the most rugged Badland terrain in the entire state. More than 30 miles of marked trails weave through the over 5,700 acre park. Detailed information on the trails is available through the State Park, though, you can almost be certain you’ll see horses along your journeys.
It’s an area with a climate just as harsh as its landscape and as the seasons change, the terrain morphs along with the sky. During off-seasons, visitors are still welcome to come and enjoy the land for a whole other list of recreation, including skiing and snowshoeing. It’s not the first place you might think of as you’re hitching up that trusty RV, but this place is used to seeing hard-working beasts. It’s time to park this one and get your feet moving instead. Lace up those boots - there’s a lot of ground to cover.
RV Rentals in Little Missouri State Park
Transportation in Little Missouri State Park
Just coming up to this park, you will be astounded by the breathtaking views. Although clearly geared toward horseback riding and backpacking, there is still so much more to do that starts with a drive through the park. The best views, even beyond a lot of hiking or riding, seem to be on the approach to the park itself. The roads tend to not be too busy, except for occasional oil trucks. As long as you don’t mind a few frequent stops, you’ll be happy to take in the vistas.
For parking, your best bet is to situate your RV or camper within the grounds and get your boots laced up. The landscape is rather rugged, so many of Little Missouri’s visitors continue the trek either on foot on on horseback.
Campgrounds and parking in Little Missouri State Park
Campsites in Little Missouri State Park
Reservations for camping can be made for the beginning of May and throughout October. The campgrounds are rather primitive, yet still not as “backcountry” as some. The provided amenities include electric hookups and vault toilets. Visitors are also welcome to utilize pay showers and RVs are encouraged to use the dump station.
Little Missouri State Park is almost first and foremost for equestrian use, but other “beasts” are able to find refuge here for a few nights, as well. RVs and trailers of varying sizes are able to maneuver through the grounds, however, be prepared to share hookups with neighbors. This can make quarters a little more crowded than you were originally anticipating. There is still plenty of room to make any slide out adjustments, especially when the park isn’t as busy.
Don’t be surprised if you come across some horses here as well. You can pretty much guarantee you’ll be seeing quite a few of them during your stay. Plus, a corral here at the campgrounds is an easy showcase. Water is found at the park entrance (or around the park) but not at campgrounds, so it is best to gather before going to your site. All sewer and dump is also located at the park entrance.
All sites in the grounds are kept by reservation only. If a campsite is not reserved after the reservation window has closed, it then becomes available as a walk-in campsite. Visitors are permitted to reserve same day arrivals nights, but only directly through the park.
When staying at Little Missouri State Park, your options will include tent camping, reservable cabins, and equestrian camping. The park is highly geared toward travellers on horseback, and even the overnight stays are a testament to that. If you’re looking for camping that is a bit less primitive, you’ll have to stay about an hour outside of the park.
Seasonal activities in Little Missouri State Park
- In these rugged badlands, you might not think of fishing right away. Yet it’s a favorite pastime activity for many in this neck of North Dakota. Avid anglers have thrilling opportunities to pursue this recreation. Some popular bites come from the area’s pike, perch, or walleye. When looking to fish closer to the park, your best option is to test the waters of the Little Missouri River.
Dirt bikes, ATVs, and other sorts of registered OHVs have, literally, thousands of miles of riding opportunity in North Dakota. Most anywhere you can go, you can ride, including in the State Park. In general, as a good rule of thumb, all OHVs may ride on paved highways posted with a speed limit of 55 mph or less and must remain on the highway right of way, bottom of the ditch, or along the outslope. It is illegal for riders to operate on the shoulder or inside slope of roads. Any gravel, dirt, or loose surface roadways are also fair game.
One of the preferred methods of navigating the landscape of Little Missouri State Park is on the back of a horse. This equestrian oasis is geared toward horse and traveler. These strong, powerful animals make light footwork of the 47 miles (plus) of trails in these badlands.
Over the years, geocaching has become another way for visitors to get out and explore more of the trails and historic aspects of the park. By using GPS technology, those participating can be shown a unique trail, a historic landmark, structure, or even the beauty of a natural wonder. It’s a high-tech treasure hunt that anyone of any age can enjoy.
Wherever there are trails found in the park, you are free to take your bike. Certain trails may be marked, but, as a standard, you can count on taking your bike anywhere. These lands are rather rugged, so most of the “getting around” is done without a standard vehicle. For those looking to dig deeper into these badlands, bicycling offers a fun and speedy outlet.
This activity is popular among hikers who want to enjoy a stroll through the park without having to worry about trudging through the deep snow. There is no mention of snowshoe rentals, so it is best to come prepared with your own off-season equipment. Those engaging in this sport should stay vigilant to areas where cross-country skiing is popular. Groomed areas become hazardous after snowshoes break up the trails, making it difficult, and mildly dangerous, for skiers to traverse.
When you want to go outside after the snow begins to fall, snowmobiling is a great way to get the most out of the season. The same trails that in the summer make for great OHV trips offer awesome opportunities for snowmobiling. Just remember to follow all caution signs and closed areas.
North Dakota’s winters can be full of precipitation, especially in the form of snowfall. Throughout the state, cross-country skiers will find groomed trails and even areas where adventurists can blaze their own trails. The park is one of the latter, so enthusiasts should anticipate outings that are just as rugged as when the badlands aren’t blanketed in white.
The park sports over 47 miles of trails where hiking is almost as popular as the horseback riding. Trails are all marked at major intersections along the route. These trails are restricted from vehicular use. When hiking the trails, be sure to bring along enough drinking water, be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, and give all livestock you encounter some ample distance.
Outside of peak park seasons, the wildlife of Little Missouri State Park really gets to flourish. The park doesn’t discriminate - there are all sorts of unusual critters. They tend to hide and keep to themselves, but, the more quiet off-seasons helps to make their presence known. Grab your camera!