Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) quickly became my favorite place so far. Not because of the wild animals we have seen but because of the beauty. We have been told that usually the park is mostly brown by now, but due to the amount of rain that has fallen this year, everything is still very green and wild flowers that usually don’t bloom this time of year are still blooming.
After we got settled, we had lunch at the Farmhouse Café, rode to the Painted Canyon Visitor Center and then took the 36 mile Scenic Loop through the South Unit of TRNP. All I can say is beauty is a 360° view. The multitude of ecosystems here is amazing. It goes from desert, rocks and dirt, to lush prairie grass and thick forests of trees. We saw one bison on our way to the RV park and saw 1 bison at mile 19 of the scenic loop. We saw hundreds of prairie dogs, many of which we young ones and a small rodent in the opening of a cave. Hopefully by the end of the trip I can find out what it was. We know a herd of bison and wild horses are out there, but haven’t seen them yet. I am eagerly waiting for the day I find them.
We explored Medora on our bicycles today. We stopped at all the local museums learning about the history of the town and explored the various gift shops along the way. We had a guided tour of Roosevelt’s hunting cabin and helped out a fellow cyclist by getting her in TRNP with our annual pass. Roosevelt came with a Tiffany’s gun and knife but quickly gained respect of the cowboys.
We hiked the Wild Canyon Trail to take sunset pictures and on our way up we spotted 2 bison laying up on some cliffs, one rolled over on his side where you could barely see him. Once we hiked to the top of the hill, we spotted 4 more bison, we watched one cross a river, and two were on opposite sides of the road, one ran towards the other, they butted heads and they went on their merry way. On the hill we also saw 5 wild horses and a rabbit crossed the trail. We took sunset pictures and on our way home we saw more bison on the side of the road, a badger, mule deer, white tail deer and elk.
I woke up to a nice thunderstorm, had to quickly get the side patio up to avoid it getting rained on. It has stormed almost every night we have been in ND. I don’t mind it because I love a good storm. I had to drive into Dickinson 30 miles away to find a real grocery store. Medora is a small town and only has convenience stores. On my way back, as I was approached Painted Canyon, I saw a herd of ~50 buffalo on the side of a hill. I wish I could have stopped, I wish I had my camera, but I didn’t, so I slowed down as much as I could and enjoyed every moment of driving by the herd. It is such an amazing sight to see wild animals in their natural environments.
TRNP has daily guided hikes, today I had my choice of two. As I was driving to the trail head, I saw 8 wild horses on the side of the road. Due to the time I decided to take the Ridgeline Nature Trail. It was a .6 mile hike and the guide talked about the flora and fauna of TRNP. It was a nice hike, had some steep steps and I was able to take some nice pictures of flowers. On my way home, I drove passed the wild horses again. I later found out the second hike that I had originally planned on attending was cancelled due a herd of ~100 buffalo blocking the path. Each time I take a trip into TRNP or just look at the badlands from Medora, I am reminded to thank God for my eyes. You don’t get this kind of beauty in Ohio.
Tonight we went to a Ranger talk about the Land Before Time and the animals (Dinosaurs) that called this land home. Did you know T-Rex, Triceratops, Woolly Mammoth all roamed North Dakota?