Theodore Roosevelt National Park Roadtrip

  • Badlands ND – 49
  • Badlands ND – North Unit
  • Badlands ND – Superstorm approaching
  • Badlands ND – 20
  • Badlands ND – 25
  • Badlands ND – 41
  • Badlands NP rock formations
  • Badlands ND NP

Like most of my summer road trips, I decided to go to the Theodore Roosevelt National Parks just the night before while planning what I would do for the weekend. In a mad dash to get out the door for the weekend, I grabbed my GoPro, gathered up my hiking and tenting gear, then jumped in the Subaru and began my drive.

After driving through the middle of nowhere for what felt like an eternity, I finally arrived and decided I would visit the North Unit of the park first. The North Unit is about 45 minutes away, without traffic (and yes, there is a lot of oil boom related traffic) from the South Unit so most people usually skip it so they have more time to explore the South Unit which has more trails and roadway to visit.

The video below was taken while approaching the entrance to the North Unit

The North Unit has a few trails and but the main mode of viewing is by taking the scenic roadway loop that have several overlooks of the Little Missouri River. The colors and terrain were remarkable and exceeded all my ideas on what I thought the park would look like. While driving through the park, I was fortunate to see a couple of Bison walking around but after spotting me, they decided to take off into the bush.

My adventure was to include an overnight hike along the Maah Daah Hey Trail which connects the North Unit with the South Unit. After driving around the unit, I decided to set up my camp at CCC Campground which is just outside the park on the opposite side of the river. The trail and campgrounds along the trail are accessible and cater to mountain bikers and horseback riders but I was there for a good old fashion hike. I began my trek down the trail, unfortunately, after a short time on the trail, I notice in the distance the weather was looking a bit on the cloudy side and could see rain was approaching. It was a though decision but I had to call off the overnight hike and returned back to camp to pack things up. In the end, after seeing the brunt of the storm later on in the day, this was the best camping decision I made in a long time.

 

Since I was no longer camping, I wanted to see the South Unit and began my drive towards Medora. Entering the South Unit, you have to exit Hwy 94, drive through Medora and take a bridge back over Hwy 94 into the entrance. This unit has quite a bit more option for hikin, and scenic road loops through the park but it is much more crowed with day tourists. One trail I didn't get to explore was the petrified forest trail which I'm told is very nice. Throughout the unit, I experienced on and off heavy sessions of rain while trying to navigate the meandering roads in the park while also trying not to run into a buffalo.

After leaving, I stopped in Medora to grab a bite of food and relax for a while before getting in the car and driving the few hundred miles back home. Medora seems like a tourist trap but I enjoyed the wild west vibe going on there. Saloons lining both side of the street and horse walking up and down the main street as well, I felt like was back in the 1800's when Theodore Roosevelt was exploring the town. My time there was short but I couldn't have left any sooner - As I was leaving a super storm was just about to unload on the town and it proceed to chase me all night and across the entire way across the state.

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