Colorado Guy

North Dakota High Point - White Butte

Near Amidon in West North Dakota; A Cold, Windy and Muddy Hike on the Plains - October 14, 2008

North Dakota High Point North Dakota High Point

My journey to the North Dakota high point had plenty of challenges, but I made it!

After doing some research and communicating with other highpointers, there appears to be some confusion about White Butte (elevation 3,506 feet), the loftiest point in North Dakota. Much of this stems from the high point and its surrounding area being on private property. The brief summary (as I understand it) is this: At one time, the land owners required a $10 fee to hike White Butte, and it was requested that people give a courtesy phone call to inform the land owners. Today, according to the latest and most reliable sources I could find, phone calling or obtaining permission is not necessary. There were no people anywhere near the vicinity nor was there signage indicating a fee. (I carried cash just in case.)

Directions: From Amidon, travel two miles east on Highway 85 and make a right (south) on an unmarked gravel road. Proceed five miles (mark your odometer) and make a right on another unmarked dirt road. Continue 1.2 miles to what appears to be a residence. A large metal mailbox is on the left. A tractor road begins at this mailbox and heads directly toward White Butte. I parked my car at the mailbox and hiked two miles round trip.

On the day of my visit, the conditions were extremely windy and muddy. A significant snowstorm happened days earlier and some snow remained. The chalky white texture known as bentonite clay was loose and muddy, as you will see in my photos.

Lastly, be advised this region is rattlesnake country! Many directly warned me to be on the lookout for snakes. Snakes generally like tall grassy plains -- the very terrain of this area -- and they are active during non-winter months. I included a video of another hiker who spotted a rattlesnake near the summit. Be alert!


North Dakota High Point A large sign outside of Amidon, North Dakota.
White Butte, ND Thick gray clouds hover over White Butte.

White Butte, ND

The mailbox is situated at the entrance of a green house, a trailer home, various vehicles and farm structures. The area appears abandoned.

The bottom photo shows the view of the tractor road from the mailbox. My hike started here. I simply walked on the road and climbed the hills to White Butte.

Farmhouse On the right is an old farmhouse. The road was extremely muddy and I did not want to drive on it, but a 4-wheel drive vehicle could easy make it to the old farmhouse. I do not know if this is permitted, but one could easy shed about 0.2 to 0.5 miles off the walk by parking near this structure.
White Butte, ND Continuing toward White Butte.
White Butte, ND

North Dakota High Point

One comment: After wandering, I realized the best way to climb up is to stay near the barbed wire fence on the left. There is initially a steep hill up front, but beyond that there is a trail that gently ascends to a saddle near the summit ...
Mud ... Before I learned what I said above, I wandered among small gulches and realized how terribly muddy the chalky texture was. It was hilarious to observe myself slowly sliding down a muddy slope with no way of stopping myself. The left photo shows my sliding footprints. Yikes!
North Dakota High Point Approaching the summit.
Marker North Dakota High Point

White Butte - Elevation 3,506 Feet

The marker and cairn at the summit. A tribute is paid to Lawrence Buzalsky who passed away in 1990. (I believe that he and his wife were the previous land owners.)

North Dakota High Point

North Dakota High Point

North Dakota High Point

North Dakota High Point

North Dakota High Point

Five photos of the views at the top. Because of the strong and chilly winds, it was hard to enjoy the summit.

I have a lot of respect for the power of the winds on the North Dakota plains!

This was my twelfth state high point visited. 38 more to go! :)

Below are my previous U.S. state high points:

  • New Jersey High Point
  • Florida High Point
  • Colorado High Point
  • Connecticut High Point
  • Pennsylvania High Point
  • Maryland High Point
  • West Virginia High Point
  • Delaware High Point
  • Iowa High Point
  • Minnesota High Point
  • Wisconsin High Point

    Not a state high point, but I'm proud of it:

  • Manhattan, NY High Point
  • Steve

    Steve Garufi

    Two photos of myself on White Butte. The strong winds made it difficult to keep the camera still while using the timer.

    I signed the guestbook and learned that I was the first person to visit White Butte in six days. Kudos to Pete Ford (above), the last person before me for bagging his 46th state high point. Way to go! on Facebook


    I like the Native drum music, but a terrible video by me.

    Someone else's video on a nicer day.

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