One of the most distinctive landforms of the Great Plains is the lone butte. Nothing says “Great Plains” like a towering monolith reposing in the dreamlike distance – not quite mountain, not quite hill, but an unmistakable and proud feature of the landscape that beckons from far away. Buttes are majestic and muscular like mountains, and yet subtle and inviting like hills. They trick us and look huge from a distance, and then seem to shrink as we draw near. If you can get permission to climb one (many are on private lands), you will be rewarded with a wide view of land as well as sky. There is certain to be a wind, and you are certain to be greeted by hearty, desert-like plants that have decided they like it up there. I like it up there too!
The next few posts will be a highly incomplete survey of some of the buttes of the Great Plains. I will start in North Dakota, but because I have already discussed White Butte in detail (see High Plains High Point – White Butte), let’s take a look at a few other buttes rising from the fields and plains of North Dakota:
Black Butte: In counterpart to White Butte, we have Black Butte. It’s not far from White Butte and happens to be the second highest point in North Dakota at 3,465 feet, a mere 40 feet lower than White Butte.
Third highest in the state is Sentinel Butte (3,428 ft) just outside of the town of Sentinel Butte near the western edge of the state along Interstae 94.
Further down the list, but very intriguing, is Rocky Butte (3,245 ft).
Check out the view from the summit!
All Photos: Bob Neugebauer