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Paddling’s Greatest Getaways

16 wild ways to find backcountry solitude and big-time scenery. All this, and you can bring the ice chest, too.

©Chuck Haney

Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

{North Dakota}

Best of the Badlands

Lose yourself in a prairie dreamscape on the Little Missouri River.

Theodore Roosevelt claimed he never would have become president if not for his experiences hunting and camping in North Dakota’s Badlands. Paddling through big-sky country in TR’s namesake national park-a land so vast the locals call it “miles and miles of miles and miles”-is still a life-altering event. The slow, coffee-and-milk river snakes through a steep-banked channel bordered by rolling prairie, surreal clay buttes, and starkly beautiful badlands dotted with sagebrush and juniper. The best 4- to 5-day trip is a 110-mile section that bisects the North and South units of the park. Camp on cottonwood-shaded sandbars and big-view benches by night, and scan for bison, elk, and bighorn sheep by day.

Get there Start at Medora on I-94 at the park’s South Unit, and end at I-85 just past the North Unit.

Season April through June, but check with the park on flow. You want at least 2 feet of water at Medora to avoid boat dragging.

Difficulty Easy. It’s all flatwater.

Contact Theodore Roosevelt National Park, (701) 623-4466; www.nps.gov/thro

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