Bowman hoping to increase tourism with White Butte campaign

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 7:12 PM CDT
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WHITE BUTTE, N.D. (KFYR) - White Butte is not only the highest point in North Dakota, but it also has become the center of a tourism campaign for one North Dakota city.

Climbing up to the top of White Butte is difficult, but getting those hikers and tourists into nearby Bowman is another challenge.

Hikers Wally Jackson and Jim Croswell are on their way up.

“Up, straight up,” said Croswell.

They are hiking to the top of White Butte — the highest point in North Dakota.

“This is the first time I’ve driven through North Dakota. And yeah, it’s mostly pretty boring and flat, and then you get here and it’s pretty amazing. It’s like all of the sudden, boom, you have all these mountains,” said Jackson.

Both of them have hiked to several high points in the U.S., and for Croswell, White Butte was number 31. For Jackson, this makes five. They say the view from the top is worth it.

“It’s spectacular, the view is unreal, you can see for a long way,” said Croswell.

White Butte overlooks the state at 3,506 feet, but it is often overshadowed by other attractions in the area like Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

“The tourism base is so important to our local businesses, so we like to highlight those and get them more people in,” said Brooklyn Engelhart, Bowman County Development Corporation creative marketing coordinator.

White Butte is located in Slope County. But Bowman, which is about 15 miles away, is looking to bring hikers into the nearby town with a new t-shirt campaign for those who have completed the hike.

“We keep finding t-shirts that are White Butte, White Butte, and we realized that they are old and we really don’t know where they came from. We are really excited to get more people walking around with White Butte t-shirts,” said Engelhart.

More hikers have been able to climb White Butte thanks to a national hiking club. The High Pointer’s Club and Foundation helped establish an easement with landowners for a parking lot and trail access.

“The hike then, you kind of had to park at the farm and I think the lady that had owned and lived on the farm had passed away by then. I know there were some issues with her and she always had a contribution box out, a mailbox out that she expected people to throw a few dollars in if they were going to hike along her fence line and up to the high point,” said High Pointer’s Club President Alan Ritter.

Members of the club seek to climb the highest geographical point in each state. They are looking to make more improvements at White Butte such as a new USGS benchmark on the peak.

“The High Pointer’s Foundation, which is a separate organization from the club, helps to fund improvement projects for high points. Some of them are things like signage,” said Ritter.

Access and the trail have changed with time but the view on top remains the same.

“This one definitely was the most difficult one I’ve done. I really enjoyed it. It’s very beautiful up here,” said Jackson.

It’s just a two-mile round-trip hike to get to the top of North Dakota’s highest peak.

The lowest point in the state is the Red River near Pembina at 750 feet above sea level.