On to Teddy's place! Sun/Mon - 7/17-7/18

Sometimes, maybe in a full moon or if sunspots are sending out high energy waves (hah!), driving through the country just feels right -- that all is right with the world -- fields of flowers adorn the roadside, no large trucks push you around, and the big RV tires simply hum.  That's how it was for me Sunday morning after leaving Spirit Lake Casino at Devils Lake ND.  I tooled along doing about 60, comfortable, thinking happy thoughts.

Then it was Jimmy's turn to drive.  His was a different kettle of fish altogether!  South of Minot, ND, he turned onto Hwy 23.  As he was turning, we saw a sign with the dreaded words:  Road Work Ahead.  The highway people could have at least given a driver more advance warning.  We would have taken a different route to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (north unit), but once committed, there was no turning back.  Trust me.  It was AWFUL.  And it went on and on, mile after mile.  We survived, but it sure wasn't fun.

So, when this stunning Field of Flax appeared, I asked Jimmy to stop, which was no problem, 'cause you couldn't go more than 20 mph and no one else was using the hacked-up road.  I wanted to take a picture, and I wanted to pick one stalk of Blue Flax for the RV.

Neither of us knew a thing about this national park.  Driving along this section of North Dakota, we encountered plenty of oilfields (way too many) in an otherwise featureless landscape ... as you've either seen yourself or heard about (the oilfield boom) from the news.  When we neared the park, we were delighted to find ourselves in a different landscape:  the remarkable badland hills.

Created in 1947, T. Roosevelt Nat'l Park has two separate units:  North and South, with Elkhorn Ranch in the middle.  We visited the north unit, near Watford City.  A 14-mile scenic drive provides easy access to popular vistas and wildlife viewing.  After setting up in Juniper C/G, Jimmy and I began the scenic drive.  (Note -- I called the park while we were on the way and was assured that the c/g would have space available.  "In seven years that I know of, the north unit c/g has never been full.")  No hookups, however, so we nailed the shadiest spot we could.

The Little Missouri River flows through the park.
This overlook offers truly sweeping vistas!

Git 'em, Teddy!

I was interested in the geologic formations, and if you'd like more info, here 'tis. I did know that the blue-gray popcorn-like soil is called Bentonitic Clay. Black bands are lignite coal. Something I learned is that when Theodore Roosevelt lived in the badlands in the 1880s, he and his ranch hands shoveled lignite coal from the hillsides to use in their stove.

Such a picturesque place.  Lots of trails to hike, critters to see.  Still green in many areas, tho the park receives a scant 15" of rain per year.   That river is waaaay down there!

We wondered if this "log" above was petrified wood.

"The Bad Lands grade all the way from those that are almost rolling in character to those that are so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth."
Theodore Roosevelt

Concrete concretions!

Haha, we circled Sullys Hill yesterday looking for bison!
Today we see them everywhere! 

Finally out of the middle of the road.  Marching beside it, instead.

From their website:  The entire park has been surrounded with a 7-foot tall woven wire fence to keep bison and feral horses inside the park and commercial livestock out. Other animals are able to pass over, under, or through the fence in specific locations provided for that purpose.  Makes sense.  The flying dust (above) is a bull bison rolling in a "wallow."

We slept with our windows open again, and were awakened by yip-yip-yipping coyotes, not too far away.  I love being back in the west. 

The End.


  1. Bison are - well - interesting! Love the badlands landscape.

  2. The field of flax must have made your bumpy drive worthwhile - beautiful!
    We visited the south unit of the park last year. The north unit looks just as scenic!

  3. Good to know you never need reservations for the north unit, and I love that Teddy Roosevelt story. They don't make presidents like that anymore!

  4. Great tour, it has been years since we were there.


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