The self-guided portion of this trail is ¾ mile each way. You can stop there or continue on another 2 ½ miles to the overlook shelter where your friends can meet you with a car. I walked about ½ mile past the end of the self-guided portion then retraced my steps.
Equipment: Good walking shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, maybe a snack.
The Little Missouri river cuts through the park, as it winds its way north (before making a sudden u-turn to become the river we know in the midwest). It is a gentle current, with no major rapids, typical of rivers east of the Rockies. You wind down the river, moving at a lethargic pace, but which gives you the chance to view wildlife and enjoy the beautiful vistas that unfold with each bend in the river. It provides an alternative, and scenic, method of viewing this magnificent area.
You can take small trips or large trips. I did just a day trip, about 5 hours, and incidentally was outside the park the whole time (but still in badlands territory). If you have a lot of time, you can travel through both sections of the park and the rolling hills—110 miles of drifting
River levels are variable, but are usually best mid-May to mid-June. You can check water levels at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nd/nwis/rt (click on the Statewide Streamflow Table link).
Equipment: For sure bring a mosquito net. There aren't many of them, but there were bugs something fierce, and they love the facial area. The slow conditions and ample vegetation, plus the silt in the water, allows them free reign, and can really mess up an otherwise pleasant ride on the river.
I rented a canoe from Custer's Cottage. Very nice and accommodating, will drive you out to any drop off point you like, depending on how far/long you want to go. Highly recommended. http://custerscottage.com/contactus.php
There is also a short trail leading to the CCC shelter overlooking the Oxbow bend in the Little Missouri River.
Equipment: Good walking shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat.
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