North Dakota High Point - White Butte
Near Amidon in West North Dakota; A Cold, Windy and Muddy Hike on the Plains - October 14, 2008
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
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 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!
||A large sign outside of Amidon, North Dakota.
||Thick gray clouds hover over White Butte.
|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.
||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.
||Continuing toward White Butte.
|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 ...
||... 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!
||Approaching the summit.
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.)
|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
|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!
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