Thing to Do

Hike the Painted Canyon Nature Trail

A view up a trail towards a butte through junipers. A trail marker reads Painted Canyon.
Painted Canyon Trail

NPS Photo/J. Houghton

For visitors arriving from the east, Painted Canyon is a dramatic introduction to the badlands of North Dakota. Named for its vivid layers, it's also home to one of the most popular trails in the park, a 1-mile loop that drops down into the canyon. Winding through juniper and wildflowers, crossing cracked washes and showcasing ongoing erosion, the Painted Canyon Nature Trail offers a moderate challenge with massive rewards. 

Proper footwear is recommended.

It is illegal to remove any resource from a national park. Leave any flower, stone, or other object where you find it so that other visitors can enjoy it as well. 

It is illegal to carve, paint, or otherwise alter anything in a national park. 
Details
The Painted Canyon Nature Trail is an unpaved trail which may occasionally have loose gravel or uneven footing. There are steep sections, some of which have widely spaced log steps. Proper footwear is recommended. There are several sections which are extreme slipping hazards after rain; use extra caution during or after inclement weather. 

It is illegal to remove any resource from a national park. Leave any flower, stone, or other object where you find it so that other visitors can enjoy it as well. 

It is illegal to carve, paint, or otherwise alter anything in a national park. 
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
The Painted Canyon Nature Trail trailhead is located just off Interstate 94 at exit 32. The trailhead is approximately 50 feet north of the picnic shelters at the west end of the parking lot. 
Trail conditions may be dangerous or slippery due to inclement weather. Speak to a ranger for more details. 
Accessibility Information
Painted Canyon Nature Trail is an unpaved trail which includes uneven footing, steps, and potential slip hazards. Proper footwear is recommended. Service animals are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Last updated: February 21, 2021