Theodore Roosevelt NP Times Two - Trip ReportTeddy Theodore Roosevelt Badlands Wild horses North dakota dakotas
Posted 14 July 2012 - 01:09 AM
President Roosevelt’s quotes are in brown.
Wouldn’t you know? We just get back and Teddy Roosevelt’s Elkhorn ranch and surrounding areas are in danger of being ruined by gravel mining. To save the area and parkland, it must be declared a national monument by President Obama. I’ve been sending postcards and emails to the president, and just signed this petition.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 01:14 AM
Both north and south are beautiful and worth visiting.
The badlands are the prevalent feature in either section, described by Teddy Roosevelt as "so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth."
The northern and southern sections of the park are separated by a 70/75-mph paved highway, a 1.25 hour drive. While there are some scenic views on this highway with a few spots to pull over, it is not a meandering in-the-park transfer. There is quite a bit of truck traffic on this road. The two sections are really like separate parks.
.................................................................................................. .. ..........North................................................................................................South
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 01:17 AM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 02:20 AM
In either the north or the south, I think the Teddy Roosevelt Badlands of North Dakota are even “badder” than those of South Dakota.
North = The paved northern loop is 14 miles through 24,000 acres. In 2012 only the first few miles or so into the park were open due to previous flooding that had wiped out the roads. Nice hiking was still available and we even saw the steer herd of around 14 Long Horned Steers that run wild “to reflect the living landscape as Roosevelt experienced,” (as stated in the park brochure).
...........................Me sniffing Sagebrush on a hike in north.........................................................................Unsniffed Sagebrush on a hike in north........................................................Longhorns in North
South = The paved southern loop is 36 miles through 46,000 acres.
Herds of about 110 feral horses roam the southern section and we were privileged to be surrounded by horses a couple of times for views of their daily routine. On each southern section drive we encountered at least one horse in different parts of the park.
There are some Big Horn Sheep in the north, but we did not see them, perhaps because the extremely high winds on Trip #1 made it too dangerous for the sheep to stand on the cliffs, and they took refuge in better protected, less visible areas. And on Trip #2 we could not get very far into the northern section of the park.
Otherwise, the wildlife is the same in the north and south, but more slightly abundant and visible in the south.
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 02:26 AM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:38 AM
Mule Deer Juvenile Broad Wing Hawk (I think) Mountain Bluebird
Wildlife Sightings included:
- Buffalo in herds and single buffalos (every outing)
- Prairie dog towns with hundreds of them, but they sleep in until it warms up
- Mule deer
- Long Horned Steer (north)
- Wild horses (saw some every outing! in the south)
- a single Pronghorn in the south on each trip (more seen from the highways nearby)
- one Smooth Green Snake
- wild turkey
- numerous raptors
- frequent views of the beautiful Mountain Bluebird in 2011 only
- lots of Yellow Headed Blackbirds in 2011 only
- Lazuli Bunting (2012 only)
- Sharp tailed grouse
- red headed wood pecker
- blackbilled magpie
Elk are seen to, but we did not see them.
Birds are Yellow Warbler and Western Meadowlark
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 03:39 AM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:45 AM
Continuing with the sightings...
“Husband sighting” worth noting:
-My husband imitated the prairie dog danger stretch and alarm call. He really caught the attention of several of these creatures as he raised his hands over his head, arched his back, and chirped, just like they do. I think there should be a yoga position named after this elongated prairie dog stretch.
Non-wildlife sighting worth noting:
-In Medora a very elderly gentleman using a walker inched his way toward his pickup, tossed the walker in the bed of the truck, hobbled into the driver’s seat, and sped off.
Human intruder sighting worth noting:
-A guy walked from the road and sat near a herd of grazing horses, which disturbed them. As the herd ran one direction, the guy got up to depart in the other direction and was met by the herd’s stallion that came galloping across the meadow in confrontation. Fortunately nothing happened.
Post-trip comic sighting worth noting:
.....................................................................................................................Eyes wide open for the tussle
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 04:07 AM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:52 AM
WHERE TO STAY
If you want to stay near the north section, lodging is a long ways away in Williston and Dickinson, North Dakota or Sidney, Montana. But good luck even getting a room in any of those places. The oil boom (along with the potash boom) in the region means few beds are available. We could not find one single room several days in advance in mid-May 2011, which was off-season.
In the south section of the park there are more lodging options, but even several of the places listed in AAA had no availability several days in advance, again due to the energy workers. On Trip #1 we stayed found room Badlands Motel in Medora, with badlands outside the door and the park entrance a couple of blocks away. Badlands Motel is very basic and had good heating (also AC but too cold for that) and was extremely clean. Cable TV and WIFI.
Trip Advisor had many negative comments about train noise at Badlands Motel. There are tracks that run past the motel, but we were never bothered by the noise during our 2-night stay. A couple times I walked outside and saw/heard the train, but did not notice it inside. We had a room as far away from the tracks as possible, near the pool and mini-golf, so that might have helped. While pool and mini-golf can generate their own noise, at least there is no midnight mini-golf or swims under the stars to keep you up at night.
On Trip #2 we booked months in advance and stayed 3 nights a few blocks away from Badlands Motel at the lovely and historic Rough Riders Hotel, just like Teddy did when he was there. It has been beautifully renovated since Teddy’s time and has a magnificent library and adjoining restaurant that served outstanding meals, including the best pancakes I ever ate. Cable TV and WIFI.
Rough Rider Hotel's Library Lobby
Badlands and Rough Riders are operated by the same management and each offer a AAA discount.
Also in Medora was an AmericInn Hotel—Rough Riders was the same price but AmericInn had free breakfasts.
I bet any accommodation is fancier than where Teddy Roosevelt stayed on his first visit. According to The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkely: A “gruff manager…ushered him to a cot in a large communal room…alongside touchy frontiersmen and saddle-sore wranglers, it all looked very primitive. The wash basin where he tried to shave was clogged with dirty water and stubble, and the hotel towel was soiled with alkali dust. Instead of complaining Roosevelt relished the lack of amenities.”
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 04:04 AM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:06 AM
Not over until "Quote(s) of the Trip(s)" appear.
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 04:12 AM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:34 PM
DRIVING TO THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK IN WESTERN NORTH DAKOTA
In 2011 from Grand Forks, North Dakota we went to the northern section of TRNP first. Don’t do what we did and take the most direct route from Grand Forks, which passes through Minot, and then continues west on Hwy 23. It was fine up until we got to Hwy 23, but then it got hairy. The oil boom means many huge rigs and trucks traverse this narrow highway at fast speeds. Gravel and dirt flew out of the truck beds and hit our vehicle with such force that we thought the windshield would crack. Very high winds, rain, and some flooding added to the danger, but even without these extra hazards, the 2 hours on this road was awful. I later found out Hwy 23 is North Dakota’s deadliest highway. The whole trip took 7 hours, going the speed limit with a couple of stops to switch drivers.
After our harrowing drive, what a treat to pull up to the entrance of the northern section of the park and see a couple of buffalo grazing outside the visitor center. At first, I thought they were statues, a common misconception according to the ranger on duty.
Grazing outside the north ranger station
We spent 3 hours doing the 14 mile northern loop twice, then drove 1.25 hours south to Medora. 7 + 3 +1.25 made for a very long day.
In 2012 we took I-94 west straight to the town of Medora (population 100), which is 60-90 seconds from the park entrance. Then we spent one morning and early afternoon driving to the north section, touring by car and on foot there, and driving back to Medora in the south, in time for an afternoon outing in the south.
Some other drive times where we made a few brief stops during the trip: Rapids City to Medora = 7 hours; Minneapolis to Medora = 9.5 hours; Fargo to Medora = 6.25 hours; Minot to Medora = 4 hours
On Trip #2 my husband decided to provide a diversion while driving through the endless plains to the badlands. He brought along hours of his cassette recordings of the 1984 Cubs season. Fortunately we have a 1998 vehicle that has a cassette player. We relived the days of the Ryne Sandberg game, Sutcliffe the Red Barron, the Penguin, the Sarge, etc. all the way to North Dakota.
Dodge Caravan in Medora. My husband
likes vacation photos of the vehicle.
Seven miles from Medora, between the north and south sections of the park, is Painted Canyon, a strategically located scenic lookout with some of the best views in the park.
From lookout point at Painted Canyon, about 7 miles north of Medora
Altogether, we spent 5 nights total in the park on the two trips, combined.
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 03:57 PM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:11 PM
QUOTES OF THE TRIPS SECTION
QUOTE OF THE TRIP #1
The winner is my husband’s quote. He resigned himself to the fact that I’d be spending a lot of time in the prairie dog town. As he put it, “We don’t just want a picture of a prairie dog. No, we have to get pictures of them facing north, east, south, and west.”
Right, and after we get them facing the four corners of the earth, we’ll go for north by northwest...
It was at that point I believe that he began his stretching prairie dog imitation.
QUOTE OF THE TRIP #2
We asked to see a menu at a local diner. As we were looking it over, the owner/chef appeared, pointed at the menu and inquired, “How’s she looking to you?”
'She' looked good enough for lunch.
Teddy Roosevelt provided the most pithy and literary quote. In reference to the park, and its badlands in particular, he said, “They look like Edgar Allan Poe sounds.”
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 04:32 PM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:46 PM
It was very cold (mid 40s, maybe it hit 50) and windy. The winds were so strong that we opted out of hiking the numerous marked trails for fear of loose branches or something flying through the air impaling us or at least poking us in the eye.
Ranged from 50s to 80s, with a wee bit of rain. Not much wind so we did several hikes.
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 04:46 PM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:49 PM
Closeup, burrs in fur...................................................................... ......Nursing calf.................................................................................................Buffalo resting in prairie dog town, congenial neighbors
Most of our sightings were not shared. We saw about half a dozen other vehicles during an entire park outing. I noted more traffic on the weekend than weekdays. On the hikes it was just us and the badlands, the fragrant sage, and buffalo in the distance. It was ok to exit your vehicle for better views or photos, but always at a distance from the wildlife and not pursuing it.
Sometimes the wildlife came to us.
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 05:16 PM.
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Posted 14 July 2012 - 05:11 PM
Edited by Atravelynn, 14 July 2012 - 05:31 PM.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 05:26 PM
For anyone feeling presidential, Roosevelt confessed, "I would not have been president if it hadn't been for my experience in North Dakota."
Even for those not seeking the Executive Branch, a trip to North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park offers spectacular natural beauty.
Posted 14 July 2012 - 09:28 PM
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Posted 14 July 2012 - 11:28 PM
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… clarity in thought comes after challenge …
Posted 18 July 2012 - 04:22 AM
Posted 18 July 2012 - 11:37 PM
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Posted 16 August 2016 - 04:17 PM
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota in May 2016
Amending this report to show a 3rd trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and adding a couple other destinations, means the original title is no longer correct. Oh well.
Custer State Park, South Dakota - Taken while driving around on our own
Indian Memorial, Little Bighorn Memorial Battlefield, Montana Badlands of South Dakota
Our third Teddy Roosevelt National Park visit was again in the Spring (May 15, 16, 17 of 2016) because it:
- beats the crowds that arrive Memorial Day weekend and remain all summer.
- avoids the hottest temps.
- is when foals from the feral horses and buffalo calves can be seen.
Teddy Roosevelt National Park in Spring with foals and calves
WEATHER in Teddy Roosevelt National Park the 2nd & 3rd weeks of May was
Trip #1 2011
Mid-40s F, maybe it hit 50 F. Strong winds discouraged us from hiking.
Trip #2 2012
50s to 80s F, with a wee bit of rain. Calm winds. Nice hiking weather.
Trip #3 2016
60s to 80s F, calm winds. Nice hiking weather. No rain. Perfect vacation weather.
Wildlife was visible, accessible, and photographable on all 3 fun and memorable springtime visits to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
There were more and younger prairie dog pups on this TRNP trip than the others Buffalo at Painted Canyon, 10 minutes from TRNP
Very young foal in TRNP Buffalo and horses grazed peacefully in near proximity to each other in TRNP
In general, as the season progresses into summer, the animals descend from the higher locations and spend time along the Little Missouri River, meaning they are more accessible and visible to visitors. This third trip was our earliest (and I think had the driest winter of the 3 trips) adhering to that trend. We saw no big buffalo herds, unlike the other two trips. And we saw the horse herds high up in the hills more often on this trip, as they negotiated the rocky terrain.
Herds high in the hills of TRNP
Three May visits within 5 years that necessitate a 900+ mile trip (one way) and a hotel enroute is a good indication of how much we enjoy springtime in the majestic Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Black sage grouse, Western meadowlark (2), Western bluebird (2), Killdeer, Spotted Towhee – Fewer birds seen this trip than previous trips
Next is the specific 10-day itinerary
Edited by Atravelynn, 16 August 2016 - 04:29 PM.
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Posted 16 August 2016 - 05:45 PM
Glad you started with this, had been looking forward to it, Lynn. Love the Prairie Dogs, the Meadowlark and the Bluebird.
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