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Painted Canyon

Intermediate
 4.4 (15) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This is a loop trail with a steep descent and steep return ascent and beautiful badlands scenery.


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Map Key

1.1

Miles

1.8

KM

Lollipop

2,780' 847 m

High

2,533' 772 m

Low

262' 80 m

Up

261' 80 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

20%

Max Grade (11°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly This short trail with great views is located conveniently next to the visitor center.

Pets in the park must be restrained at all times, and are not permitted in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry. Be aware that dogs can agitate bison and other animals, creating a dangerous situation.

Overview

Start at the Painted Canyon Visitors Center, open seasonally May through October. If the visitors center is closed, you can still take the exit off Interstate 94 and park on the road in front of the gate and walk through the pedestrian gate. Do not block the vehicle gate as the Park Service needs to access the area for administrative and safety purposes.

Description

Proceed to the Visitors Center and go through the obvious pathway to the north side of the structure to the Painted Canyon Overlook. This is one of the most popular spots for viewing the scenery in the park.

Take the paved trail to your left, and you'll come to the Painted Canyon Nature Trail trailhead. Follow the trail down as it loops downward into the canyon, then back up. The ascent is steep and the maximum grade is 20% but not rated as difficult because of its short length.

Flora & Fauna

Bison, wild horses, juniper, native prairie grasses.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Theodore Roosevelt

Shared By:

Karen Ryberg

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 15 votes

#2

in South Unit

#1157

Overall
  4.4 from 15 votes
5 Star
53%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
13%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#2

in South Unit

#3

in North Dakota

#1,157

Overall
13 Views Last Month
2,313 Since Sep 9, 2015
Intermediate

0%
7%
73%
7%
13%
0%

Photos

More of the Bad
Dec 5, 2017 near Medora, ND
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Dec 5, 2017 near Medora, ND

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Check-Ins

Oct 20, 2021
Keri Chipman
Check
Oct 12, 2021
Julie Stradel-Graf
Sep 22, 2021
Steven Brenner
very steep descent and ascent. saw a buffalo above the trail. most difficult
Sep 16, 2021
Richard Vogel
Jun 8, 2021
Darby Capellin
The loop leads down into the canyon. Best views of the canyon are from higher points. Some log steps are becoming eroded. Many pines and juniper. 1.1mi
Aug 16, 2020
Brooke Rekus
Saw the Painted Canyon and the badlands, then stayed in a cute western town in Medora
Jul 27, 2020
Jason C
Jul 19, 2020
Katie Nolan