|Distance||2.4 miles roundtrip|
|Terrain||A few hills|
|Best Seasons||Spring, Summer, Fall|
- Astounding badlands views
- Escaping the crowds of Oxbow Overlook
One thing I've learned about national parks is that most visitors are unwilling or unable to hike more than a couple feet, so the drive-up viewpoints are always crowded. The second you step onto a trail, you'll surprisingly find yourself alone, at least for short intervals. While crowded might be a relative term when describing the Oxbow Overlook given that the North Unit sees significantly fewer visitors than the South Unit, the hike to Sperati Point allows you to leave the tourists behind for, in my opinion, a much better view (and not just because there won't be other people around you hogging the best spot to sit and enjoy the view). The effort to reward ratio is quite high too, since the trail has only a slight uphill grade, requiring at most only an hour and a half of your time (if you're in shape you can easily do it in under an hour).
From Oxbow Overlook, look for the post marking the start of the trail on the west side of the parking area. Follow the trail on the right of the sign pointing to Sperati Point, leaving behind the pavement for the prairie wilderness pictured below -- fun fact: the majority of the North Unit is actually a designated wilderness area. Notice the vast diversity of plants and flowers as you pass through.
Dogs are prohibited on all trails in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This is one of the easier hikes in the North Unit, and its gradual grade and short distance makes it doable for most, even children. For those unable to complete the hike, Oxbow Overlook where you parked offers a similar view to Sperati Point. Hiking is available in all three warm seasons, but the road may be closed past the pullout for the Caprock Coulee Nature Trail during the winter. In the summer, note that there is no shade on this hike, so bring extra water and start in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the hottest temperatures. The North Unit sees much fewer visitors than the Interstate-adjacent South Unit, and the hike to Sperati Point is a good way to escape the (small) crowds at Oxbow Overlook.
From Interstate 94, take the exit for U.S. Highway 85 in Belfield and head north, following signs for the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In a little over 50 miles, you'll see signs for the park entrance. Turn left and pay the park entrance fee at the station or by entering the visitor center on the right if the entrance station is closed. Continue on the scenic drive, traveling slowly to absorb the beautiful scenery and to get a taste of what's to come. Park where the road ends at Oxbow Overlook.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Entrance to the park requires paying the $30 vehicle entrance fee valid for 7 days, except on designated fee free days. Annual passes for Theodore Roosevelt National Park are also available at $55. Interagency annual passes are available for $80 with discounts for seniors, military, and those with disabilities. Visit the Theodore Roosevelt National Park webpage about fees for more detailed information. There are no facilities available near the lot.