On our second full day in North Dakota, we returned to Theodore Roosevelt NP for a long hike. One very nice thing about this national park (and probably others; I can't recall) is that once you pay for your permit, it's good for seven days. Since we'd paid our $10/car to do the loop drive the day before, we only had to show our receipt to get back into the park to hike. An excellent deal if you're staying in the area for awhile!
Barry planned a loop hike for us comprised of four different trails -- a total of 11.4 miles. I generally prefer hikes in the 7-8 mile range as my feet tend to get very sore on the longer hikes, but I do love a loop hike (rather than an out and back), so I agreed. The trails on this hike were rated moderate, so not too steep.
Driving to the trailhead, we were very lucky to spy this huge American Bison right by the side of the road. Kinda scary, but we were in a car -- don't think I'd want to see him this close while hiking!
It was cool and overcast starting out but cleared and warmed up as we went so was a nice day for hiking. Our first trail was the Jones Creek.
What this hike lacked in climbs, it made up for in creek crossings. Some were more challenging than others. I loved this series of photos Barry took of me negotiating this one. I could never have made it without my hiking poles!
We saw a lot of wildlife on this hike, including a Mountain Bluebird and Cedar Waxwings. There were many other birds we just couldn't identify as they'd fly away too fast.
And the scenery was as pretty as the birds....
Our second trail was the Lower Talkington. This trail boasted some beautiful rock formations along the way.
Our third connecting trail was the Badlands Spur.
We got a little confused on this short trail by multiple intersecting trails, some of which were probably bison and/or wild horse trails (we did see a lot of poop!) As a result, we did a little backtracking. We'd had the same problem on the previous trail, thus increasing our total mileage for the day to around 12.
I for one was very glad to reach our final trail, the 3.5-mile Lower Paddock Creek Trail. My feet were getting pretty tired and sore by this point.
This trail had the most creek crossings of the day, and some were quite wide (and deep), requiring us to travel a bit up or down the creek looking for the narrowest place to cross. Much to my amazement, we managed to get across all of them without getting our feet wet. I was glad of that as they were not clear creeks babbling over rocks but murky water with muddy bottoms. Apparently this part of the state had had a bit of rain recently; I expect under normally dry North Dakota conditions these creeks are much less full.
This was a very beautiful trail. I love these photos of Barry enjoying the scenery and the solitude. We weren't sure if we'd experience that solitude now that we're back in the US. In Belize, we were often the only people at a national park all day long. We came close to that on these trails and only saw three other hikers all day, two of them on this trail.
On this trail we saw our first wild horses and lots of prairie dogs in a large "prairie dog town". So cute!
At last we reached the end of the trail and our hike. You can tell by the long afternoon shadow that this was a long hike!
On the way out of the park we encountered this adorable wild turkey family crossing the road. Once she (?) was sure we were going to stop for them, the adult very carefully led the "teenagers" across.
After twelve miles of hiking, we treated ourselves to an excellent, and very hearty, Mexican dinner at Don Pedro's, right across the street from our La Quinta in Dickinson. Despite big appetites, the portions were so huge we still brought home enough for lunch the next day!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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