I don’t really know how or why I come up with some of my ideas. I get something in my head and just have to do it I guess? After driving by the sign that says White Butte, highest point in ND several times on my way to Deadwood/Rapid City, SD, I thought why wouldn’t I want to go up there? I’ve lived in this state for 37+ years and can’t say I have been to the highest point? I need to change this. So, we did.
After finally finding a Saturday where it worked for us, we traveled the nearly 3 hours south and west to White Butte. My parents, brother and his girlfriend, sister and my aunt and her fiancee was our crazy group.
This is where you must park and start the walk out to the buttes. The walk to start hiking up the butte is longer than actually ascending the butte itself.
I loved this charming old farmhouse on the way to the butte. We lucked out with a seriously nice October day – warm sun and a nice breeze.
Naturally, I go to my first place to get my questions answered – Google.com. Here are some fun facts I found by digging around about White Butte, ND, just outside of Amidon in Slope County, southwest North Dakota.
- White Butte is the highest natural point in N.D. at an elevation of 3,506’ above sea level
- A butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a small, flat top and means small hill
- There are three hills in ND known as White Butte
- The buttes near White Butte have a white chalky color from clay in the local rocks and soil
- White Butte is part of the Chalky Hills
- White Butte is the only one of the 50 state highpoints classified as a butte
- White Butte is in Slope County, an area larger than Rhode Island, but is the least populous county in ND
- White Butte itself is not white, but grassland in color
- White Butte is the 30th highest state summit of the U.S. Highpoints (this was the most shocking fact to me since we consider our state to be fairly flat; I think Florida is the lowest highpoint)
- Many people from all states and other countries climb White Butte as part of completing all 50 state highpoints
- White Butte is located on private land. It is courteous to leave money for the landowners granting access to the highpoint. You do not have to contact the owners (Mr. and Mrs. Dennis) for specific permission but if you have questions, call during reasonable hours
- Black Butte is nearby (5 miles away) and is the 2nd highest point at 3,465’ high. It is said that Black Butte is 41’ lower but offers better scenic views.
- You can easily find a sign pointing to White Butte from US Hwy 85 (between Belfield and just a few miles north of Amidon) from there, use your vehicle to mark 5 miles until you reach a gravel road where you turn right (south) for 1.2 miles where you must park and start walking
- There are not public facilities nearby, bring your own water, snacks and try to use the restroom in Belfield before continuing on – Amidon does have a bar but it doesn’t open until 2 p.m. MT
- Be prepared for weather – the buttes become very slippery in rain or snow. If it is windy, it’ll be windier at the top; if it is calm, it will still likely be windy at the top
- There are worn paths leading you up to the summit and around other buttes
- The hike is fairly easy and took us about 90 minutes including time to stop for photos and exploring; you could likely do this in half the time if you hustle
- There is a memorial marker at the top of the summit for the former property owner, Lawrence Buzalsky. I don’t know if he is buried there, had his ashes laid there or it is just a marker
- There is a summit log book in a box, be sure to sign it and check out those who came before you
- There is a huge nail marking the highest point in ND so you know you made it and are on the correct butte
- White Butte rises about 500’ from the surrounding land
- It is rumored there are rattlesnakes in the area. We visited in fall and didn’t see any – just be careful and if you see one, walk the other way and do not bother them
Even though the hike is fairly quick, it was fun to check this off of our bucket list as a family. I didn’t get a photo, but there was another longer, skinnier box at the top of the summit. If you opened it there were different momentos people had left behind – a decorative turtle, some cards, Chapstick and more. I wish I knew the story behind all of the items.
These are a couple shots looking out from the high point. Stunning, really. I would love to be here at sunrise, sunset or after spring when it is more green. I felt like a bird!
My aunt (on the left) and Mom are big into NDSU football so they had to bring their flag to the summit and get a photo together. Go Bison!
Here I am with my aunt and Mom. You can see it is quite windy and sunny. We wore bright colors since this was pheasant season opener weekend. We saw many hunters out and about – you can’t be too careful. As always, pick up after yourself and leave the butte in as good of condition as or better than when you arrived.
Afterwards, we went into Dickinson to Players Bar & Grill for a family meal. Here I am – middle sister (literally and figuratively) between my big brother and little sister. Love these two.
I can’t wait to go on another adventure. What’s next? Hmmm?