Teddy Roosevelt’s North Dakota

We’re camped right outside the Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit, which is in western North Dakota. This isn’t pure badlands like in South Dakota; there is a lot of green here, and the Little Missouri River runs through the park. I think the contrast between the sage brush, green scrub, and grassy prairies and the buttes and rock of the badlands makes it more beautiful than South Dakota (but then I haven’t been there in 30 years, so check back with me next time I’m through.).

Our Own Campground

I have always heard that if you camp right outside a National Park, you’ll find camping spots more readily and they’ll still be beautiful. What an understatement here. We’re no more than a handful of miles from the park’s North Unit in a campground called CCC, and we’re literally the only campers in our loop. With this view.

It’s very hot though, and the flies are all over us. Still, with the right sheets hanging from the awning and some patience, I’ve learned to watch the sunlight move across badlands visible from the campsite, and I’ve become mesmerized.

The Park

It’s divided into three sections, with tons of hiking trails and wildlife. We’ve seen prairie dogs, hares, and bison, but so far no big horn sheep as we’re hoping or wild horses, which are kept in the park as a nod to Roosevelt.

Caprock Coolie Trail Loop

This morning we left Banjo in the trailer early (no dogs allowed on National Parks trails) and drove part of the scenic route south through the section to the trailhead at Caprock. It’s a four-mile hike, but with huge elevation changes and direct sun most of the way. So worth it.

Tracy’s started to see birds from the west that he’s never seen before, and I’m just elated on general terms.

I took a million videos to try to show the vast landscape around us, but the sun seemed to be shining in the wrong places when I tried to show off everything. Those badlands in the background are just amazing.

Around each turn, I would let out a mild profanity. Tracy finally said something like, “Man.” The views went on and on.

These are caprocks, the namesake of this trail. They’re dense enough to withstand erosion, creating monoliths.

Tracy thinks he’s found a petrified tree stump.

Another kind of caprock, jutting from a cliff face.

The Little Missouri is running below.

Frankly I’m overwhelmed with beauty. And exhausted from a mere 4-mile hike. I think it was all the exclaiming and photo-taking that wore me out.

It’s getting hotter and hotter around here, so we may not stay in North Dakota for much longer, as much as I’d like to. We need to head to elevation to get out of this unusual heat. Western Montana will be our destination sooner than we expected, I believe. In the meantime, we’ll try to see the South Unit of this park; there’s a petrified forest there!