A National Forest - A National Treasure
Trip Start May 06, 2012
38Trip End Ongoing
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Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play...
Ok, for a least a couple of nights that is. Yep, we thought we had encounters with the buffalo in South Dakota - well, I tell ya, this was absolutely wild! Here there were plenty of roaming buffalo. Plenty!
We arrived at the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota in the early evening. We were excited to see a couple of bison just at the entrance of our campground. When we awoke the next morning at 6 AM and opened up the blinds in the RV they were right there in plain sight
Now, one wouldn’t want to get too close to the not-so-little fellas as you just never know how a wild critter would behave. Bison can spin around faster than a horse, run at speeds of 35 miles per hour, and weigh up to 2000 pounds. Thank goodness we never had to find out just how quick they are. However when you head down the camp road on your bike and there’s a big fella right there you can’t, but help want to get a photo with him! (...just step a little further back, Sharon...)
The park, itself, was very beautiful. Like the Badlands of South Dakota, 60 million years ago streams carried eroded materials eastward from the young Rocky Mountains and deposited them on a vast lowland - today’s Great Plains. The landscape in the park was quite varied and in one particular area, known as Coal Vein Trail, a fired burned here in a coal seam from 1951 until 1977. The intense heat baked the adjacent clay and sand - the result like a natural brick colour called ‘scoria’
We took a bike ride up the scenic roadway and along the way saw several buffalo and many chattering prairie dogs located in the areas that are referred to as Prairie Dog Towns where there seem to be hundreds of them running around. Later that day, we drove the entire 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive with interpretative signs, which helped to explain the park’s historical and natural features. One of our favourite sights of the day was the wild horses up on the hillside that were overlooking the canyon. How exciting!
During our time at the Visitor Centre one of the Park Ranger’s told us that in the Petrified Forest area of the park they had discovered a base of a tree trunk millions of years old, which now rests in the Centre for all to enjoy. He suggested that we view their little museum which housed several personal items of Theodore Roosevelt, ranching artifacts and natural historic displays. In behind the Centre they have restored his Maltese Cross cabin, which was used as his first homestead when he initially came to the area in 1863. Overall, it was very interesting as it gave us a better understanding of how these badlands came to be and provided a good picture of the man who truly cared about nature and conservation.
We’re off to Montana in the morning to visit with some of Sharon’s relatives. Looking forward to getting reacquainted and enjoying a little family time.