Terry Badlands aren’t so bad, even in winter


The moon rises over the Terry Badlands on Jan. 8, 2023. While the Badlands sees most of its visitors during the summer, it’s also an inviting place to explore in winter. 

Chris Jorgensen, Billings Gazette

Feeling a little stir crazy from being pent up during the coldest December in decades, and eager to walk off a glut of holiday roasts and sweet rolls, I decided on two days of long hikes in rough country.

Unwilling to wait until spring for the mountains to clear, I instead drove a couple hours east from Billings to the Terry Badlands. I’d hiked there several times in the summer, but never in winter.

This swath of BLM land spans about 45,000 acres sprawling north along the Yellowstone River, part of it now a Wilderness Study Area. The trails loop through low bare hills banded in colors from gray to purple, orange to ochre, and this time of year lots of white. There are a few rough campgrounds that even in peak summer months are never crowded. But, in the first week of

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