Teddy Roosevelt National Park: Painted Canyon Trail

Are you looking for a place to stretch your legs while traveling I-94? If so, the Painted Canyon Trail at Teddy Roosevelt National Park is a perfect choice. Here are 8 reasons that the Painted Canyon trail makes a perfect stop on your next road trip.

1. Easy off – easy on highway access.

Finding the trail head is as easy as stopping at a rest area. You can see the visitor’s center from the highway and the trail head basically in the parking lot.

2. You may see a Buffalo.

Signs of Buffalo are everywhere from the parking lot and the picnic area to the trail and surrounding grasslands.

3. There is potable water adjacent to the trail head.

A drinking fountain and faucet are located near the trail head. We filled our water bottles, rinsed our dishes, and washed our legs with soap after finding poison ivy on the trail. By the way, there is poison ivy near the trail entrance. The trail is wide enough to avoid walking through it but it was too late by the time we realized it was there.

4.The Painted Canyon Trail forms a loop.

My favorite trails tend to be circles. I enjoy completing the loop rather than walking in and back or deciding where to turn around. This trail loops back behind a rock wall that hides that parking lot and highway. We felt as if we really went for hike into the wilderness!

5. The trail is well marked, easy to follow, and interesting enough to be fun!

6. The distance is just right for a hiking during a road trip.

We often find our road trips sidelined by long hikes that are beautiful but take all day. It is not uncommon for us to find that we have driven only 100 miles by the time dinner rolls around. It takes a while to drive across the country when you are doing it a 100 miles at a time! The Painted Canyon Trail is 0.9 miles and takes 30-45 minutes. Even our 5 year old easily made it in less than an hour.

7. The views from the trail really are better than those from the highway or the parking lot.

The hike is worth it when the views are better than from the van! Here is a view from the trail.

8. Take this trail to escape the wind at Teddy Roosevelt National Park!

The wind was blowing pretty strongly when we started the hike. Within a few minutes, we were removing our sweatshirts and complaining about the heat. As soon as we got back to the trail head, the wind was howling again. If you are feeling worn down by wind, take this trail and enjoy still canyon air!

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8 thoughts on “Teddy Roosevelt National Park: Painted Canyon Trail

  • The Painted Canyon Trail sounds like my kind of walk. Not too long, perfect to enjoy within a road trip and spectacular views. It’s funny, I prefer walks that form a circuit as well, must be something about completing a circle! Good to know about the Poison Ivy as well.

  • So I am an avid backpacker and hiker while Darcee, though she loves the outdoors, doesnt like the long distances or altitudes I take her on. So the Painted Canyon Loop trail sounds perfect for her since it is barely a mile. Plus that view you guys got while into the trail is amazing. How beautiful was that canyon? I love it when you discover a hidden gem off the highway that cant be really seen while zipping by! Gonna add this to my North Dakota trip next time we go see Darcee’s Parents in the Northwest Corner of Wyoming!

      • Sorry Meant the Northeast Corner of Wyoming, I just showed her your post and she is looking over my shoulder yelling at me that I should remember where in Wyoming her family is from…Good Grief, I may need to hike that loop solo right now!

  • I have never heard of Teddy Roosevelt NP. Although I have never been to teh USA but I keep coming across other famous parks like Yellowstone NP, Arches NP etc. I agree having potable water is very important because you need frequent refills. Makes the visit easier. Hiking is definitely one of the top things I love to do when visiting National Parks.

  • That is such a convenient and easy option for a day hike. Having a painted trail is really helpful, when you’ve strayed off the path. Good tip about the poison ivy.

  • You’re right, the painted canyon trail sounds ideal for anyone passing through on a road trip. We always lookout for hikes that are under 2 hours return whenever we’re road tripping, so this is definitely one to book mark!

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