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Caprock Coulee



4.2 mile 6.7 kilometer loop
88% Runnable


Ascent: 631' 192 m
Descent: -627' -191 m
High: 2,447' 746 m
Low: 2,022' 616 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


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Trail shared by ktboundary Thompson

Run with the Bison and Teddy Roosevelt.

ktboundary Thompson

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

National Park rules and restrictions apply.


This trail offers a short introduction to what Theodore Roosevelt National Park has to offer. The trail offers grand views, narrow coulees, trees, prairie, geology and wildlife.

Bison can impede forward progress. However, it is worth turning around to see them.

Need to Know

This trail has a few locations where you'll have to slow down and make sure you are following the right trail. Use the Trail Run Project mobile app to help with wayfinding.

Runner Notes

Watch out for bison, rattlesnakes and slippery mud (bentonite clay). Can be very hot in the summer. Ticks in the spring.


Start at the Caprock Coulee trailhead/parking area. Sign in at the trail register and head left down a short descent. Follow the trail along the bottom of the coulee which is also part of the self-guided Caprock Coulee trail.

Once reaching the end of the self-guided trail, turn left and cross a small bridge over a stream. If this section is wet the trail may be hard to follow. Generally head south until you find the wooden steps heading uphill.

The trail then enters a section of trees the circles back uphill until you reach an overlook with stunning views of the park. Continue following the trail while taking in the views and looking for bison.

The trail then crosses the scenic road and winds along the road until you reach a parking lot for the River Bend Overlook. Here there is a short trail to an old CCC shelter with expansive views of the Little Missouri and south side of the park.

Go to the east end of the parking lot where the trail is right next to the guardrail for the road. The trail then heads right and down a steep incline before following a narrow ridge. This section of the trail can be hard to follow, but look for round wooden posts serving as stairs to know you are on trail. Also, a few layers of bentonite are crossed and if they are wet, can be very slippery.

Continue onward, trying to not fall of off the trail while taking in the sights. The trail drops steeply downhill until you reach the Scenic road and the parking lot you started at. Don't forget to sign out at the register.

Flora & Fauna

Bison! Deer, coyotes, mountain lion, longhorn cattle.


Land Manager: NPS - Theodore Roosevelt

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Aug 6, 2016
Neil Goss

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 10 votes


in North Unit


  4.4 from 10 votes
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68 Views Last Month
1,899 Since Apr 19, 2015



View of the Little Missouri and southern part of the park.
Apr 19, 2015 near Watford…, ND
Bison near the Caprock Coulee Trail
Dec 26, 2018 near Watford…, ND
Looking southwest to the Little Missouri and the direction of travel.
Apr 21, 2015 near Watford…, ND
Sunset brings out the rippling topography surrounding the River Bend Overlook. Photo credit: NPS/Dave Bruner.
May 25, 2017 near Watford…, ND
Narrow Coulee
Apr 19, 2015 near Watford…, ND