The Painted Canyon Overlook is located on the interstate I-94, on the edge of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, only six or seven miles East of Medora, in North Dakota.
To be more accurate, is at Exit 32 from the I-94 freeway. It is opened seasonly, from May to October.
When you are travelling on this highway, this place is a must stop, as it offers a majestic overlook of the rugged beauty of western North Dakota. If you wish to have only a glimpse of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, without entering it, this is a great place to stop along the interstate highway.
AMAZING VIEWS OF THE BADLANDS AND ITS PAINTED CANYONS
There is no doubt that the views of the North Dakota Badlands are stunning! This rest stop overlooks the Painted Canyon.
The rock formations and colours are scenic, if not phenomenal! It's definitely worth pulling off the interstate. I discovered it by accident and I was blown away by its beauty.
What makes it so colourful? The sediments! Sand, clay, silt, shale and lignite coal, all having different colours, provide the colourful “painted” landscape in front of your eyes.
The weather, erosion, wind and water flow are daily contributing to reshaping this land. Two types of rocks can be found in the park: sedimentary and metamorphic.
The Canyon's mountains are steep and side with Little Missouri River and the grass lands in between. After the rain, the colours are more intense than on a bright sunny day.
THE PAINTED CANYON OVERLOOK FROM THE VISITOR CENTER
The Painted Canyon Visitor Center is a combination rest stop and museum type store. It has a long paved walkway which enables tourists to have a bird's eye view over the Badlands.
There is plenty of room to walk around and stretch a bit while enjoying the sights.
Inside the centre you can purchase some snacks from the vending machines.
Watch for buffalos grazing in the area, wild horses and prairie dogs!
I was excited to spot a buffalo sitting on top of the hill, right next to the fence.
There is NO entrance fee!
If you are looking for a bit more adventure, you can hike into the canyon. There are two trails that leave from the Visitor Center. The first one is a short one mile loop, while the second is a bit longer (2 miles) and takes you down to the Canyon floor. Keep in mind, you’ll have 2 miles to hike back and the trails have a steep decline and incline.
While hiking on one of these trails, you can see the richness of the colours up close, smell the scent of the canyon’s vegetation. It’s an unique experience that brings you closer to nature, allowing you to revel in gorgeous surroundings. You can watch or listen for birds and insects while thinking how it must have been to live in the wild wild West.
If you lack stamina, you can have a seat on one of the benches located next to the walkway and enjoy the stunning views.
RANGER’S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HIKERS:
- wear hiking pants (not shorts)
- use a hiking stick as the terrain offers a little challenge
- bring water with you
- beware of snakes
Most of the hikers prefer to go on the trails during late fall or early spring because the snakes "hibernate".
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