Tidbits: Highest peak in North Dakota
Summitted, September 15, 2007
Time Zone: GMT -7 hours
When to go:
The best time to go is spring and autumn. Winter brings unpredictable weather and bitter cold. Summer brings blazing heat. WARNING: BE AWARE OF EXTENSIVE RATTLESNAKE ACTIVITY ON THE TRAIL AND AT THE SUMMIT (there is a nest at the summit).
There is only one route to the summit. After traveling as far as you can on the dirt road (see "Getting There"), follow the north-south ffence that runs along side the dirt road. There is a small, poorly marked trail that extends for approximately 1 mile and leads to the summit.
Hotel and Climb Reservation:
No guide, permit, or trail reservations are required. The summit is on private property and the property owners request a donation (there is a small mailbox when turning onto the last dirt road marked for this purpose...when I went there the suggested donation was $10).
Standard light hiking gear and water for a short hike including water and sunscreen. I highly suggest bringing a walking stick to poke on the ground in front of you to scare away any rattlesnakes that may be lying in the brush or under rocks on the trail.
Travel east for approximately 2 miles on Highway #85 from Amidon and take a gravel road on your right (south). Proceed for 5 miles to another gravel road on your right (west). GO approximately 1 mile and you should see a mailbox with the highpoint donation request box. After making the suggested donation (remember, you are on private property), make a left and proceed down the dirt road along a fenceline as far as practical without getting stuck. Park off to the side and continue on foot.
White Butte isn't in the middle of nowhere, it's further away than that.
After completing my summit of Harney Peak in South Dakota the day before, I decided to make the long drive to White Butte. There isn't much to see along the very empty and lonely roads leading up there. There are very few cars or towns, but this area of the country has a certain serene beauty.
After locating the entrance to the private road that leads to the summit and making my required suggested donation to enter the property (it's on the honor system), I proceeded up the bumpy dirt road that leads toward the summit. I did pass some farmers in a pickup coming the other way, but my wave was not answered as they drove past me. After proceeding up about 1/2 mile with my 2-wheel drive rental car, I parked along side of the road and headed toward the summit.
The butte is a combination of sand, dirt, and trash. There is no easily distinguishable marked path, but if you look closely you can see a faint trail. There is not a lot of elevation gain (about 400 feet), and I was able to reach the summit in about 20 minutes.
There was a trail register at the summit and remarkable views in all directions. I was reading some trail posts and there was more than one mention of rattlesnake nests at the summit, so I was particularly careful, but I must admit I was a little disappointed that I didn't see any on this trip.