Geography of Billings County, North Dakota

by | March 4, 2024

Billings County, situated in the southwestern part of North Dakota, is a region characterized by its rugged Badlands terrain, scenic beauty, and rich cultural heritage. From its dramatic buttes and canyons to its winding rivers and expansive grasslands, Billings County offers a unique blend of natural wonders and outdoor recreational opportunities. In this exploration, we’ll delve into the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features of Billings County.


According to themakeupexplorer, Billings County encompasses an area of approximately 1,145 square miles, making it one of the smaller counties in North Dakota by land area. It is located in the western part of the state, bordered by the counties of McKenzie to the north, Dunn to the east, Stark to the south, and Golden Valley to the west. The county seat and largest town is Medora.

The geography of Billings County is dominated by the rugged terrain of the North Dakota Badlands, a unique landscape characterized by its eroded buttes, cliffs, and canyons. The county is part of the Great Plains region, which extends across much of the central United States and is known for its flat to rolling terrain.

The landscape of Billings County is shaped by the presence of the Little Missouri River and its tributaries, as well as numerous creeks, streams, and ravines. The county is also home to several state parks and conservation areas, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which protect important habitats and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation.


Billings County experiences a semi-arid climate, characterized by hot summers, cold winters, and low precipitation throughout the year. The region’s climate is influenced by its location in the Great Plains and its proximity to the Rocky Mountains.

Summers in Billings County are typically hot and dry, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Thunderstorms are common during the summer months, bringing brief but intense rainfall and occasional hail.

Winters in Billings County are cold and snowy, with temperatures frequently dropping below freezing from December to February. Snowfall accumulates throughout the winter months, creating ideal conditions for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.

Spring and autumn in Billings County are relatively short but pleasant, with temperatures gradually warming up in the spring and cooling down in the autumn. These seasons are favored by many residents for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.

Rivers and Lakes:

Billings County is traversed by several rivers and streams that provide important habitats for wildlife and offer recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. One of the most significant waterways in the county is the Little Missouri River, which flows from its headwaters in Wyoming through Billings County and into South Dakota. The Little Missouri River and its tributaries provide opportunities for fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing, as well as scenic beauty as they wind their way through the rugged canyons and badlands of the region.

In addition to the Little Missouri River, Billings County is home to several smaller streams and creeks, including the Bullion Creek, the Chimney Butte Creek, and the Wannagan Creek. These waterways meander through the county’s remote and sparsely populated areas, providing important water sources for wildlife and offering opportunities for hiking, fishing, and picnicking.

While Billings County does not have any natural lakes, it is home to several man-made reservoirs and ponds, including the North Unit Dam and the Little Missouri State Park Reservoir. These bodies of water provide opportunities for boating, fishing, and camping, as well as scenic beauty and tranquility in the heart of the county’s wilderness areas.

Notable Features:

Billings County is home to several notable landmarks and attractions that showcase the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. One of the most iconic features of the county is Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a sprawling wilderness area located in the northern part of the county. The park is named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who spent time in the Badlands as a young man and later became a leading advocate for conservation and environmental protection. Theodore Roosevelt National Park offers opportunities for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives, as well as interpretive programs and visitor centers where visitors can learn about the park’s history and natural resources.

Another popular destination in Billings County is the town of Medora, a historic frontier town located near the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Medora is known for its western-themed attractions, including the Medora Musical, a live outdoor musical performance that celebrates the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt and the spirit of the American West. The town is also home to several museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants, making it a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts.


In conclusion, Billings County offers a diverse array of geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other natural features that make it a unique and appealing destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. From its rugged badlands and scenic rivers to its historic towns and cultural attractions, this corner of southwestern North Dakota provides endless opportunities for outdoor exploration, adventure, and appreciation of the natural world. Whether you’re hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, exploring the town of Medora, or simply enjoying the beauty of the Badlands, Billings County has something to offer for everyone.