Theodore Roosevelt National Park High Point Trip Report

Peck Hill (2,860 ft)

Date: August 13, 1998
Author: Ron Tagliapietra

Exit I-94 at Medora and follow signs to the park's main visitor center (in the South Unit). Study the topo (or buy one). Drive to the North Dakota Badlands Overlook on the Scenic Loop Drive. Continue to a spot between mileposts 12 and 13 where a series of short posts block entrance to an old road on the right. This spot is at a curve in the road with limited parking before the posts.

Look beyond the posts (southeast) for two buttes about a half-mile away with a higher hill behind. The left butte is distinctive with a tree growing on its left side near the summit. The high hill behind is your goal about a mile away. Recall that Peck Hill has two summit contours of 2,860+ ft. Scan right from the broad summit of Peck Hill, then down a dip, and then up the lower south summit of Peck Hill.

Begin hiking toward the two buttes. An active prairie dog town covers most of the intervening plain. As you near the buttes, you will see the abandoned east entrance station for the park. Instead of going to the locked building head for the left side of the left butte. You should eventually find a trail heading in that direction and arriving in a salt flat of sorts behind the butte. You can also reach this flat by hiking between the buttes and then hugging the left one to go around the head of a small canyon. From here the trail is easy to follow to the open grassy summit, which I reached on 8-13-98.

I saw higher terrain to the south, but that is across the interstate outside the park. The south summit looked equally high, but when I got there it was obviously lower, which agreed with the views from the old entrance station and road.

The park entrance fee was $5 and good for a week. Backcountry permits are free, but campers around Peck Hill must listen to I-94 all night. Better camping would be a bit further up the loop road at Buck Hill (2,855 ft), named for the elk that hang around there.