Caprock Coulee Trail

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Northwestern Great Plains, North Dakota

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Caprock Coulee Trail


  • Caprock Coulee trailhead.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Incredible landscape stepping off on the Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Water runoff creates the amazing textures of these badlands. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Buttes and hills rise above the forested drainages. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Canyon walls before the trail climbs out onto plains. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • On top of ridges, the landscape opens up. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Civilian Conservation Corps shelter at river bend overlook. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Grassy ridges connect from canyon to canyon. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Drainage into the Little Missouri River. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Highest point of the trail climbs up through an alien-looking feature. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • Narrow sections of the trail drop off steeply on both sides. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • The Little Missouri River snakes its way through the Park to the south of the trail. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
  • After sunset, this dark sky location is a perfect place for stargazing. Caprock Coulee Trail.- Caprock Coulee Trail
Overview + Weather
Scenic. Great views. Wildlife. Near other trails.
No dogs.
Northwestern Great Plains, ND
Pets allowed: 
Highest point: 
2,450.00 ft (746.76 m)
Year round: 
Parking Pass: 
Park entrance fee
Permit required: 
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Total Distance: 
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Total elevation gain: 
1,080.00 ft (329.18 m)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,050.00 ft (624.84 m)
Typically multi-day: 
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


Tucked away in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a spectacular badlands area surrounding the Little Missouri River. The Caprock Coulee Trail is a great hiking option to see the highlights of the park in just a few hours. This loop adventure is dotted with unique geology, big views, and the occasional big-game wildlife sightings (buffalo, deer, goats).

The Caprock Coulee Trail starts and returns at a small lot 10 minutes from the park entrance along the scenic drive. A trailhead sign shows the route and other connecting trails that branch off. Starting here, head north or south (Caprock Coulee Trail is a loop), although going south begins with an abrupt climb to a high point.

The northern direction winds along a creek bed through canyons with beautiful water-carved walls. The first 100 yards are marked with points of interest. Beyond, it climbs out of the drainage to the edge of the surrounding plains. Here, the scenery opens to canyons and badlands for miles all around. Eventually, the trail crosses the scenic drive again and hugs the edge of the Little Missouri River valley. Along this ridge is the river bend overlook and a short side trail to an observation platform and stone shelter. The rest of the trail follows the valley ridge and climbs up an alien-looking geographic feature before it switchbacks down to the trailhead.

This trail is spectacular and beautiful year round. Summer is green and lush although muddy and slippery after rain, while winter brings out brown, yellows, and white snow. In winter, be mindful of temperatures and windchill as the higher exposed ridgelines may be windy; microspikes are helpful in icy conditions.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

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