Grasslands are areas dominated by prairie vegetation. In the United States, National Grasslands are protected and owned by the federal government. National Grasslands may be open for hunting, mineral extraction, grazing, and recreation. All National Grasslands of the US are located on or at the edge of the Great Plains except for three in central Oregon, northeastern California, and southeastern Idaho. National Grasslands are generally smaller in size compared to National Forests. The following are the five largest grasslands in the US.
Little Missouri, North Dakota
Little Missouri National Grassland is the largest national grassland in the US. The grassland is located in western North Dakota. Little Missouri covers 1,028,784 acres. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is enclaved in its borders. Little Missouri is part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. The terrain of the grassland is extensively eroded by water and wind, making this a unique feature of the grassland. Little Missouri is also unique because of its colorful and beautiful badlands. The grassland has both short and long grass. Parts of the grassland are privately owned while others are state-owned. The grassland is located in the counties of Golden Valley, Slope, Billings, and McKenzie. North Dakota’s highest point, White Butte, is located in the southeastern extreme corner of the grassland.
Buffalo Gap, South Dakota
Buffalo Gap is the second largest National Grassland. The grassland is located in southwestern South Dakota. Buffalo Gap National Grassland covers an area of 595, 715 acres. The grassland is managed by a division of Nebraska National Forest. The grassland is situated in the Custer, Jackson, Pennington, and Fall River counties. Buffalo Gap has mixed prairie and chalky badlands. The grassland also has a reintroduced population of black-footed ferrets. Buffalo Gap surrounds the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and the Badlands National Park.
Thunder Basin, Wyoming
Thunder Basin National Grassland is in northeastern Wyoming. This grassland is located in the Powder River Basin between the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills. The grassland is the third largest National Grassland. The Thunder Basin National Grassland covers an area of 547,499 acres. The grassland is administered by Medicine Bow–Routt National Forest.
The fourth largest National Grassland in the US is the Comanche. This grassland is located in southeastern Colorado. The grassland occupies an area of 443,081 acres. Comanche is managed by Pike & San Isabel National Forests. Besides prairies, Comanche also has Canyons such as the Picture Canyon. The grassland is divided into two sections. Each of these sections is operated by a local ranger district. The two local ranger districts are in Springfield and La Junta.
Pawnee National Grassland in Colorado is the fifth largest National Grassland in the US. The grassland occupies an area of 193,060 acres. Pawnee has trails to the Pawnee Buttes and camping at Crow Valley Recreation Area. The grassland is administered by Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests. 2