On our fall road trip, we headed north. We spent four nights and three days in the North Dakota Badlands, in the western part of the state. Who knew North Dakota could be so gorgeous? We certainly didn't -- it was the first time in the state for both Barry and me. I'm glad we finally made it here as it wasn't the flat, boring place I imagined at all. One thing I'm learning as we travel more (now that I'm retired!) is that most places have their own charm and beauty, if only you open your eyes to it. And western North Dakota is no exception. In September the crowds are certainly way down in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the big tourist destination here, from summertime.
We stayed in Dickinson, about a half hour east of the park. This city is suffering growing pains due to the recent oil boom in the Bakken Formation. Hotels, even the most basic, are much higher priced than most places we visit, because they are filled with oil workers. It's all supply and demand, baby. There was a ton of traffic and construction on the road right in front of the (very nice) La Quinta where we stayed, so we spent most of our daylight hours a bit west in and around the park area, which was much more to our liking. Quiet and beautiful.
On our first full day in town, we woke up to a steady rain. Fortunately it stopped by lunchtime, and we were able to take a drive over to the park. We decided to postpone hiking until the next day since we'd missed the morning, but we enjoyed seeing the Painted Canyon area, walking around the small town of Medora outside the park, visiting the park information center, and then doing the loop drive through the park. The scenery was stunning.
Painted Canyon (part of Theodore Roosevelt NP)
This cute little western town outside the park obviously gets a lot of visitors during the summer months but was pretty dead as we walked through. At least half the shops and restaurants were closed. We looked around for a refrigerator magnet but found very few available, so we didn't buy anything.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
We first checked out Teddy R's Maltese Cross cabin, now re-located behind the park's visitor center. Just the right size and nicely preserved. With a bit of modernization, I could easily live there! Most of the logs are original to the structure, constructed in 1883.
The sun finally made an appearance during our drive of the 36-mile park loop. It was really beautiful and we couldn't wait to come back for a long hike the next day.
A real highlight was seeing this herd of bison heading up the rocks -- even some young'uns!
We passed numerous "prairie dog towns". I've never seen so many of these cute little critters in one place before.
Stay tuned for two more days in North Dakota -- a long hike and a mountain bike ride.
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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