Theodore Roosevelt National Park: North Unit

We had a perfectly lovely day exploring the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. After three solid days of heavy rain, the sun was a welcome sight. The temperatures were warm, but not too hot, and really, we couldn't have asked for better weather. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we explored the south unit of the park back in 2014, and you can read that blog post right here.

The north unit of the park is small and could easily be seen on a day trip without spending the night. We spent two nights in the park so we had a whole day to explore. It was five miles from the park entrance to the campground, and then there is a scenic drive that dead ends--spectacularly--at Oxbow Overlook. Here are some things we saw along the way.

Directly across from our campground was the beginning of the Buckhorn Trail. There are several hiking trails in the park...most longer and more challenging than we old folk wanted to attempt. Nevertheless, one could start a lengthy hike right here. We were more interested in the rock formations.

Erosion is the name of the game at this park, and the recent rains had left things quite a mess. We know from visits to other national parks that the line of rocks toward the upper part of that image above are called dikes. That rock is harder than the surrounding rock, and so the surrounding rock erodes around it.

Turn directly around from where the image above was taken, and you can see the Juniper Campground where we spent two nights.

We love camping inside the national parks because it is inexpensive, but it is also peaceful and lovely. Juniper Campground was located in a huge stand of cottonwood trees.

It was hauntingly beautiful.

The leaves were changing, giving everything a golden glow.

And you'd be disappointed if I didn't photograph every blooming thing, wouldn't you?

An earlier sign indicated there was a "demonstration herd" of longhorn cattle that could be seen, but we never saw a single one. Oh well. You can't have everything. We saw plenty of wildlife, as I'm just about to tell you.

Behind that sign, I took this panorama. Remember that you can make the pictures larger by clicking on them. This is a good example of what the North Dakota Badlands look like.

There was just one trail we planned to hike, and we were disappointed to find it closed due to the recent heavy rains.

Nevertheless, we were impressed by the size of this bison poop...although "poop" seems far too dainty a word for this. Watch your step, please.

And, really...mind your manners too.

Our next stop was the River Bend Overlook, which was stunning in its beauty.

From the parking area, this is what you see:

We noticed a post that seemed to be the place the bison liked to scratch themselves. The post was rubbed to a shine on one side, and there were bits of fur stuck to the wood.

Their hoof prints are almost as large as their, um, pies.

Here's what you see from the viewing platform of the River Bend Overlook.

That structure there was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. I've mentioned before how much I love coming upon these structures from days gone by. You can read more about the mission of the CCC in that link I've provided. Such a worthwhile project during such hard times.

Look to the right, and this is what you see:

Look to the left, and this is what you see:

Here's how it looks standing inside the structure.

There was a herd of bison hanging out on the surrounding hillside.

This fellow seemed to take a shine to Mike, who shot this picture from his window.

That image is going into my sketchbook. My word for this One Word Wonder: "Imposing."

Of course our shadow selves had to get into the act here. They haven't shown themselves yet this trip because the weather was a little too wet for them.

The park borders on a national grassland.

And it is vast.

Standing here, one gets a real appreciation for the size and diversity of our country.

We could see private farms just outside the park's borders.

The road was in disrepair, having suffered a mudslide during the recent rains. This is Bentonite clay, and it runs when it gets wet.

Nearing the end of the road, we came across this herd of bighorn sheep waaaaaay far out across the valley. What a thrill to get to see these shy animals.

This was the view at the end of the line at Oxbow Bend. Fabulous.

From there we drove back to the visitor center. I needed to check out whether they had refrigerator magnets and/or shot glasses. There was a bison hanging there...just munching grass, completely unperturbed by the humans around him.

And, indeed, I picked up my first refrigerator magnet of the trip.

From there we went back to the trailer and tried getting the kitties out for a walk. This was a short-lived excursion. Wanna see what a bad cat looks like?

Neh, neh, neh...there isn't a harness made that can keep me contained!

Yes, in less than two minutes, this little, um, sweetsh*t...I mean, sweetheart... had slipped her harness. We had some anxious moments corralling her again. We honestly thought we wouldn't be able to do it, and she took off running across the park, running and running, farther and farther away. Finally, Mike yelled "Sadie, No!" It seemed hearing the word "no" put some boundaries in place for her, and she allowed us to approach and pick her up.

And that was the end of Sadie's leash-walking career. No more walking for her...no way, no how. Smitty has been out a couple of times now, however, and he's been a perfect gentleman.

The light was so lovely at sunset, I couldn't help but take more pictures from our campsite.

I was motivated to put the starburst filter on my DSLR and experiment a little bit.

On the embroidery front, I've finally finished the first cluster of flowers, except for one green leaf.

Now I've moved my hoop to the next section, which should go a little faster. When that's finished, I'll be doing another cluster of flowers on the other side. The flowers are taking a long time.

As I'm writing this, we're staying the night at the fairgrounds in Minot, North Dakota. It's a great spot for just $20, and we have electricity. Yay! I've done a load of clothes, and we've visited a quilt shop.

I'll save all of that for future posts, however. We're just about to go pick up some stuff at a local department store. More later.

18 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Just gorgeous and amazing photos!! Thank you for sharing these. OMG - bad Sadie indeed; not a place to get 'lost' in nor scare your humans!!

Debbie said...

Love your panorama photos. But the "imposing" one is a real keeper.....just the ancient look in the eyes of that one is fabulous. Sadie is a slick one.....can't imagine she could get out of every harness you have tried. What do we know, we aren't cats? Thanks for the outing.

QuiltShopGal said...

What an amazing place. Great views, wildlife, laundry, internet. Not sure your adventure can get any better. Thanks for sharing. This park has now been added to my bucket list.


Dorothy said...

The picture of the tree trunks (4th picture) is very artsy. I can see an "Ann Shaw" quilt in there. Thank you for posting the "info" signs. I for one am learning things I never even thought of, such as the toilet room in the prairie dog post earlier. Love being a passenger on your wonderful trip. Bad Kitty indeed !!!

Lana said...

OMG Sadie! So scary. Thank goodness you were able to capture her. And I love the bison. Such magnificent creatures. And the big horn sheep! I got to see one in Glacier National Park. So many great sights and you've just begun.

Shari said...

Such lovely pictures. Glad to see you are having a great time! I'm so glad you were able to corral Sadie after such a scare. I'm guessing she was just as scared. Glad to see she's going to be a house cat for the rest of the trip. Smitty can tell her about the sites outside. Take care and safe travels!

Marlene said...

What amazing scenery and so glad the sun came out for you to be able to enjoy it. Mike's photo of the bison is a wnner-Imposing indeed. OMG Sadie you are bad. Your mum and dad nearly had heart attacks, and now you will not be allowed out again. So glad they caught you.

WoolenSails said...

What a beautiful place to visit, love the views and wildlife.
I love how the sun looks like a starburst, never heard of that filter?


Brown Family said...

Aweet Sadie! at least she understood the word NO! Can you imagine using dried Bison chips for fuel? Cooking and heating with it must have been interesting. I have been told that when it is dry, it does not smell! Such a beautiful place we live in!

piecefulwendy said...

Being a Dakota girl (born and raised in SDak), I love those panoramic pictures. All that land and sky for as far as the eye can see. Makes me just a bit homesick! That bison picture is definitely a keeper. My daughter happened upon two bison in a fight and managed to get some pictures/video of it, from a safe distance. It's quite something. Glad you had nice weather to enjoy the park!

Beth said...

I love your trips to T.R. Nat'l Park. When my mom and I took our cross-country vacation, she suggested we veer from itinerary and stop at Theodore Roosevelt NP, since I have loved TR since I was a child. But our schedule wouldn't allow it--that would have pushed aside a visit with her nursing school roommate, which was a real treasure, as it turned out--so we drove on. Your posts have allowed me to make up for an opportunity missed.

Darn that Sadie! So early in your trip! Even feeling sure that you weren't telling a story of her escape and loss, my heart was racing while I read it. So, so thankful for the happy ending to that story. And she should be equally thankful for the catio which will make the trip much more enjoyable than it might have been.

SweetP said...

I am just loving your posts and feel like I am along for the trip. So wonderful! Sadie looks quite a bit like our Emma, but our Emma is a black tortie and a one person cat (me)and is aloof most of the time--except when I'm trying to free motion or work on the computer. Safe travels!

liniecat said...

That's a stunning picture of the bison! They look effortlessly regal somehow but am sure if one was chasing me I might think otherwise lol

Lucky Sadie cut short her bolt for freedom ... what a worry!

Lyndsey said...

Fabulous photos and really interesting post. What a shame that Sadie slipped her harness but really pleased she didn't run off and get lost.

QuiltGranma said...

bentonite clay? did you get some? useful for facials, etc!

QuiltGranma said...

oh, and buffalo "chips" were gathered by pioneers for firewood as they crossed the plains. Can you have a campfire and try out the dried ones?

quiltzyx said...

The first photo of the beginning of the Buckhorn Trail, the formations in the front remind me of "building" at the beach with wet sand. We'd fill our hands with water & sand & let it drip out onto the ground, making mounds. Fun stuff.
So glad you had such a wonderful day with nice weather! Fabulous photos all.

My Dad was in the CCCs back in his 20's - so in the late 1930s-1940s. He did work in Southern California. I've been thinking about that lately as the CCC has been working along the hills at the side of one of the roads I drive to work for the last week or so! If I've left myself extra time to get to work, they aren't there yet and are already long gone when I'm on my way home. I'd love to talk to them about what they are doing there.

Oh oh oh Sadie! What a little pill!! Glad she is safe & sound & confined to the indoors now.

Kate said...

Wow! Beautiful and impressive landscapes. Oh, that Sadie, glad she listened to Mike. Thanks for sharing your trip. Now I have all kinds of ideas for what we might do with some of our empty nesting time.