Carter County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: August 29, 2006
Author: Amanda Dinstel

I am a native of Carter County and, more significantly, my family owns W-Butte Ranch and the W-Butte. I'd first of all like to provide a little bit of clarification/history of the site. The 'W' does NOT stand for 'West'! It is simply the letter 'W'! One of the original settlers of the area used the letter 'W' as his horse brand and the butte was in his home territory so the landmark came to be known as W-Butte.

Secondly, W-Butte is on private property, and I think it should be emphasized that the landowners (my parents, my siblings and myself!) would appreciate a courtesy phone call before highpointers just barge on to our property (we wouldn't tramp into your home uninvited). We're in the phonebook.

I donít think it would ever become necessary to take any legal actions against trespassing but keep in mind that you are legally trespassing if you are on the W-Butte without permission. Michael Schwartz made the comment, "The ranch is not in sight and I never did spot the ranch or anyone associated with it." On the contrary, he was ON the ranch; the W-Butte is surrounded by and included in the boundaries of W-Butte Ranch and a good share of the land that you can see from the top, especially to the east, is our property as well. As for not being able to see anyone associated with it; well, I can see the Butte from the windows of my house, so I guess we can see you but you can't see us. Be courteous, and especially don't drive up the W-Butte if the ground is wet! It cuts irreparable ruts in the hillside which are susceptible to water erosion. That road is going to be washed away if people continue abusing it.

For those of you who plan to climb W-Butte, here are some sights that you can look for! To the southeast - Devil's Tower and the Missouri Buttes, which are near Hullett, WY. To the southeast, you can also make out the horizon of the Black Hills of South Dakota. To the northeast - the Finger Buttes, which are near Ekalaka, MT. To the north, the Chalk Buttes, which are near Baker, MT (these appear as a long white ridge on the horizon). To the southwest - on a clear day when the humidity is low, you can clearly see the snowcapped Bighorn Mountains, near Sheridan, Wyoming. To the east, you will see some sandstone buttes rising a few miles away. Yhese are Hell's Creek Formation; you can't tell it from the top of the Butte but these sandstone formations are actually rising up into your view from the bottom of the Breaks of the east fork of the Powder River. The horizon you see immediately in front of these buttes is actually the edge of a very significant cliff, about 500 feet of sheer sandstone which drops down to the Breaks below - an area very similar to the Badlands of North or South Dakota.

Well I hope you enjoy W-Butte but please be courteous! If you're there during the right time of year, you might even get to see the families of yellow-bellied marmots that make the W-Butte their home.