Sperati Point

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Trip Date: Sunday, September 16th, 2018
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 28th, 2018
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 2.4 miles roundtrip
Time 1.5 hours
Terrain A few hills
Best Seasons Spring, Summer, Fall
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

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.

Wide open prairie along the trail

Wide open prairie along the trail

The trail bends to the south, and on your left you'll see glimpses of the canyonesque badlands below. Because of the cooling shadows and drainage of rainwater, these inlets are usually lusher than their surroundings, as evidenced by the larger, greener trees and shrubs growing there.
The gorge on the side of the trail gives you a glimpse of the beauty below

The gorge on the side of the trail gives you a glimpse of the beauty below

On the right, you'll see the boundary fence for the park with the Little Missouri National Grassland on the other side. You may hear the mooing of cows in the distance -- the Forest Service often leases its land to ranchers as pasture, as I found out in the Sheyenne National Grassland earlier on this trip.
Fall colors along the park's boundary fence

Fall colors along the park's boundary fence

Eventually, you'll reach Sperati Point with its panoramic views of the badlands. Directly to the south, as shown in the first picture below, you'll see the badlands formations dotted with shrubbery as they tumble down to the river. To the east, as shown in the second picture below, you can see even more of the oxbow, where the colorful fall cottonwoods line the looping, slow-moving Little Missouri River. Over time, the oxbow will connect back to the river, creating an oxbow lake and eventually shortining the path of the river.
The amazing view as you look south from Sperati Point

The amazing view as you look south from Sperati Point

Looking east from Sperati Point towards the oxbow of the Little Missouri River

Looking east from Sperati Point towards the oxbow of the Little Missouri River

Head back the way you came when you're done enjoying the fantastic scenery. I hope you enjoyed this easy hike, and be sure to stop at every chance you get on the scenic drive out of the park to maximize your experience! Check out the page for Theodore Roosevelt National Park to find more nearby hikes in both park units. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

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.

Directions

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.

External Links

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