After the Cascades, and after much discussion, we decided to bypass Glacier National Park in Montana, due to the recent and ongoing wildfires there. That meant we had to make the long haul from the Cascades to North Dakota, to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Washington and Montana are BIG states, but we broke it up spending Labor Day weekend at a KOA that had lots of activities for the kids.
It was a bummer to just blaze through Montana since it’s such a beautiful state, BUT…. since it was a super flat straight drive across, I finally got my courage up to start driving the rig!
I put on over 400 miles! It was perfect conditions to get myself used to driving the beast. I may look a little white knuckled, but I got used to it and Alan was a great coach.
We didn’t leave Montana without a beautiful pit stop. After the end of a LONG drive, it was simply heaven to park here…
Lewis and Clark State park, from my front door
We stayed here a couple of nights and it was clean, quiet, and sublime. Forest and I checked out the Lewis and Clark caves nearby…
It was so quiet, we had our own private tour.
Meanwhile, Alan and Harlan hit the trails with their bikes. Alan reported that Harlan did a great job on his first single track.
Another long day of driving and we made it to North Dakota.
Now, we were originally going to skip Theodore Roosevelt…too out of the way, don’t know much about it, it’s small, broken into 2 units 1 hour apart, bla bla bla.
Well let me tell you, we are SO glad we didn’t. It was magnificent! We camped in the North Unit which is much smaller and much less visited than the South Unit and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We arrived early enough the first day to settle in and then go on an easy evening hike with a picnic dinner.
This was our introduction to Theodore Roosevelt
Sperati point, overlooking the Little Missouri river.
No one around…
The clouds…. no filterEasy prairie hike to get there
Just watch out for poison ivy and LOTS of Bison poop!
The prairie grasses changed color as the sun went down, from golds to reds
It was an amazing introduction to this very special place.
We brought headlamps and hiked back in the dark
The next day, we checked out some formations across the road from our campsite.
The big round rocks are called Cannonball Concretions.
Hahaha. Nice try.
In less than 24 hours we saw wild turkeys, bull snakes, rabbits, deer and bison.
We then had to go on the hunt for prairie dogs which took us to…
Prairie Dog Town!
So cute, so many, and you can really get up close and personal. They are chatty, busy little creatures and really fun to watch.
You can just walk right on through.
The hike back out was lovely too. And all about 10 minutes from our campsite. Just so wide and open…
Bison roam free here so there is a lot of evidence of their existence. On this hike, we found scraps of their fur.
I made the kids take a whiff. Kind of musty and stinky.
The boys had to check out the “cave” on the way back
We’ve learned that we need a certain amount of down time, and one way we have found to get it together is to hang out by the water. We each find space to explore in our own way. This time we headed to the muddy banks of the Little Missouri River, just a short walk from our campsite.
Alan made art..
and watched the clouds
I explored the tracks in the mud
And the boys? Well, they got dirty.
And let me tell you, the Little Missouri River mud is like no other I have experienced. STICKY and really hard to clean off!
On our way back to camp, we took time to enjoy the beautiful cottonwoods that were everywhere.
Best part of the day? Meeting this guy on the walk back.
Meet John Heiser. He basically grew up in the area and currently helps maintain the Bison Herds (among other things.) He’s a real naturalist, and has a wealth of knowledge on the Bison in the park. What a character. We even had the privilege of hiking on trails he created and named.
He affirmed that we made the right choice in visiting the North Unit over the South, as it is a truly special place.
We did venture to the South Unit late one afternoon, to eat dinner in the cute but touristy Medora and to check out the stargazing event that evening which was pretty cool. Now let’s get back to dinner.
Pitchfork Steak Dinner.
Oh yes we did.
You got it. They deep fry your steak on a pitchfork
Then you dine alfresco at community tables with live music supplied by the musicians of the “Medora Musical” (which we did not go to see)
It was touristy and surreal to say the least but the view was great!
My steak. Check out the pitchfork holes.
What the ???
When in North Dakota…
We were happy to venture back north to our little slice of heaven. Our very last day proved to be truly magical. The wide open prairies, the badlands, the bison, then you add rain and a setting sun and you get this…
Pot of gold on the rig! Run Forest run!
I made the boys go out and play, and as the light got more intense, we all hopped in the car to chase the rainbow.
And ran into this…
It was spectacular.
Harlan wanted touch the sandstone to see what it felt like when it was wet…
It was absolutely the best way to say goodbye to this place. We drove back to camp and toasted the great Theodore Roosevelt himself, the founding father of our National Parks.
And of course, Harlan got another badge. Yeah!
Thanks for hanging in on this LONG post. We really loved it here and had to share.