Scenic USA - North Dakota

Little Missouri Grasslands

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Little Missouri Grasslands - North Dakota

Photo by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Covering well over a million acres (1,259,000) in all, the Dakota Prairie Grasslands offer a unique opportunity to enjoy a look at a tallgrass prairie and the stark Dakota Badlands. Among the rolling hills of these national grasslands, sightseers will find prairie dog towns, sharp-tailed grouse, eagles, bighorn sheep, deer and antelope.
     Running parallel between U.S. Route 85 and the Montana border to the west, Little Missouri National Grasslands are open for camping, hiking, canoeing, hunting, and fishing. Taking up over a half million acres, this huge section of the Dakota Grasslands surrounds the Little Missouri River. Here, a line of brilliant cottonwoods dominate the banks of the Little Missouri River and brighten an otherwise drab North Dakota day.
   Following the Maah Daah Hey Trail is a good way to experience this grassland and enjoy its wide variety of wildlife. Also open to equestrians and mountain bikers, this backcountry hike traverses the park from north to south. The 97 mile route is well marked with trail markers emblazoned with a turtle symbol. Seeing the turtle as steadfast, patient and determined, the turtle symbol was adopted from the Lakota Sioux culture. The Maah Daah Hey name is Native American, and its roots are based on the language of the Mandan Hidatsa People.
   This area, first settled in the late 1800s by homesteaders, was seriously affected by prolonged drought. Receiving less than 15 inches of rain in the 1930s, this farmland quickly turned into dust. Congress moved to buy this devastated acreage, converting the massive area into public land. The Civilian Conservation Corps was instrumental in reestablishing grassland habitat with oversight furnished by the National Forest Service. Since the initial purchase, the forest service has established nearly 20 separate grassland areas.

     Area Map


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