Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

What a Day is All I can Say!!

Monday July 21, 2014
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Medora, North Dakota


We’ve been told TR National Park is a vast place.




And boy is it.  The park is divided into three “units” and stretches over 70,416 acres of Western North Dakota.  We are currently camped in and exploring the South Unit.  It is the easiest to get to and thus the most visited.  We hope to spend some of our time in this park at the “north” unit, an hour’s drive away.  But that’s later. 







 In the South Unit, because of its size, the park drive is 36 miles long.   We figure that’s an entire day for us and plan to get out early for our exploration.

The drive length is calculated from the Visitor’s Center and since we are six miles from it, it will only be a 30 mile loop for us.




The day starts out with blue skies and clouds but becomes more and more cloudy and  overcast until the sky is actually white.  But the temperature is perfect, the breeze light and NO bugs.  At first my pictures show the beautiful colors quite well but as the sky gets white it is too much of contrast and the colors appear much more muted.   These bad lands in many cases appear to me more like painted lands.  Although if you were riding a horse or walking through here, they would seem very bad indeed.

Of course we have to stop at every pull out and hike every trail along the way.


Don’t these look like those little beehive huts that the ancient Celts lived in in Ireland?  But this one has a face .  Do you see it?   Or at least eyes, eyebrows and a nose.  Or am I seeing things?




Remind anyone of Bryce Canyon?





 Our jaws are dropping open at what we see driving around this loop.



We had no idea this beautiful landscape was in Western North Dakota.   Somehow I thought the state was all prairie.

We reach mile post 10.8 where there is a trail called The Ridgeline Nature Trail so we hop out to take it.  What perfect weather.   But of course ridgeline means up and up.  








And up some more. 













But look at these views when we get to the top.   360 degrees of amazement.








Looks like the rain is coming early.

While we are sitting at the farthest point on a nice bench and soaking in the views, it begins to spit rain.  Probably time to head back down.   I knew rain was predicted, but I thought it was later in the afternoon.


But first the selfie.






We love rocks and these along the steps down were really beautiful.








The yellow flowers that really do make the grasslands look like gold are called yellow sweet clover.  They bloom July to October and are a sweet scented biennial.  This is an introduced European species so it’s actually an exotic invasive.  I was thinking OH NO when I found this out.  But in checking with the rangers I also found that it is not one of the ones they are trying to eradicate since it has naturalized and adds nitrogen to the soil, is favored by honey producers and is food for bison.

Pretty obvious they haven’t been trying.  It’s everywhere and I think really adds to the beauty of this place.   


I’m in no sleeves and shorts for the first time since I cannot remember when.


It’s warm, but it isn’t “hot” like it was yesterday.  High today is 85.  Seems perfect!




The rain stops as we descend and we head on around the drive.  We stop at another overlook with a short trail.




Notice the dark skies.  It has now started to lightning.  What is this man doing standing out there on an exposed surface?  He wants his picture taken. 



Back in the car, the dark clouds are behind us and more beauty is in front.





You’d think that getting rained out would be an “drat” event. 


And then the rains come.  It’s been toying with us for nearly an hour but it gets strong and stronger until we can’t see in front of us.   We are at about mile 13 when we have to just call it a day.   We pull over until it lightens up.  It’s dumped a lot of water so any more hiking will be wet and muddy.  We’ll have to come back to do the rest another day.  







We are going on down the road and are almost at the end of the drive which is about mile 24 when all of a sudden all the cars in front of us are stopped.   We hadn’t even known they were there until we came up over a slight rise.  We think it’s more road construction.  Oh I forgot to mention that earlier but I’ll catch it tomorrow.   Not road construction but a bison jam.  ALL RIGHT!!  If it hadn’t rained, we’d have totally missed this.


Many of these are out the window so they are a bit foggy.  But fun!



They are definitely heading our way.




That’s my side mirror, you can see my smile in the glass if you look closely.  Wonder if he’s thinking “you’d better wipe that smile off your face toots”.






This guy is on David’s side and isn’t paying much attention to the car.





Aren’t they the epitome of no nonsense powerful creatures?




Some Great Faces!






They keep traffic stopped for quite some time.  There are hundreds of them.  They are up the hill sides and on the ridge.











They make great silhouettes?.IMG_2593




By the time they agree to let us all go “for now” the rain has stopped and the sun has come back out. 


So Mr. Overdoer wants to do another short hike, the Wind Canyon Nature Trail which is at mile 25.1 about 4 miles from the campground.  It’s another ridge type hike but the entrance is flooded.  Since we have waterproof hiking boots this isn’t a problem for us but when we get up to the ridge we see several other cars stop, the folks come up the trail to this point and turn around and go back.  Thus we have the whole place to ourselves.  It sure pays to have the right gear.





This guy is happily enjoying the new flooding.




I had asked about kayaking the Little Missouri River which runs through the park and right by the campground.  I was told that it was only about 2.5 feet deep as of yesterday so there would be a lot of portaging on this wide flat river.  When I look out at it, I wonder if this rain has helped things and I might be able to kayak now.








It’s a pretty great day when rocks make you laugh.


Not sure who this first one is appearing to slide downhill but the second one looks like Casper the Ghost to me.





When we get to the end of the trail, we are facing what I call bison mountain.  There they are again.  But we also see a wild horse down in the valley and my zoom can pick him up.  On the other side are pronghorn and my zoom can pick them up but the pictures are not good enough to post here.   Just imagine it in your minds.  Beautiful animals and the fastest animal in the western hemisphere. Hope we will get to see them closer.




Do you see him down there in the painted pasture?





Last glimpses of the Little Missouri and its banks before we head back for dinner.  Boy this is such a beautiful place.





Oh and another selfie.  Notice we have long sleeve shirts on.  The rain has cooled things down considerably.




And that’s finally it for today.  I was going to put identified pictures of all the wildflowers we saw today and that was a LOT.  So many things are in bloom.  But this post is way too long as it is so that will have to wait until another day.  




What a day is all I can say!


  1. OK, this is on our to do list....thanks...

  2. It would seem to me you are breathing what I call, The wide open spaces sigh. I always feel it in the west where the sky is so big and the wide open spaces draw me in. I know you are enjoying it to, I can feel it in your post!. Carry on!!

  3. All I can say . . . is "I am soooo jealous"! You guys really know how to wring all the fun possible out of a day! ;->

    Virtual hugs,


  4. A great preview for us! We are staying at one of the private CGs in Medora and will probably head into the park today on a "scouting" mission. Thanks.

  5. You bring back such memories of my short trip to TR National Park. The old saying could be changed to: Time, tide, and bison wait for no man!" They are such fantastic creatures, going where and when they want to and you'd just better look out!

  6. I'm going to forward this post to Nurse Ratchet so he will have a little idea of our first place to visit.

  7. Could you tell me how long that first ridge trail was?

    1. The Ridgeline trail is listed as 6/10ths of a mile. Pretty steep up at first. But very doable.

  8. Another wonderful park to explore some day. Loved the bison shots.

  9. I agree with your thinking the Dakotas were all prairie and rocks ~ the badlands type stuff…. how pretty! goes to show me…

    I love how the Bison just saunter on across… amazed me when I was in Yellowstone… just amazing … love it! nary a thought in their mind of being harmed or harming … look at the baby! squeal…..

    another beautiful hike and pictures and narration ;)

  10. I envisioned North Dakota as all prairie, too! Loved your hikes and the scenery -- and the bison jam. We had plenty of those last fall in Yellowstone. Somehow a bison jam is fun when a regular traffic jam isn't. You both look so happy in your "selfies." :-)

  11. Thanks for dispelling my preconceived notions that North Dakota was all flat and boring. Now we can look forward to touring that great state one of these days.

    It does my heart good to see all those buffalo herds in the wild. How thankful we should be to those foresighted folks that saved some so the animal wouldn't have become extinct. :c)

  12. Awesome!!! Might have to put this on my bucket list!

  13. The smiles on your faces in those selfies says it all....AWESOME!! Wish we were there!! Guess what... we had a very similar Bison event right here in Kentucky on Friday. I'll try to get that blog post up soon:o)) Keep having fun, we are loving your adventure!!!

  14. well my comment did not publish, hope I don't get two!!! different terrain that what you normally are in huh? mid July to end of July is when flowers climax in this area.. can't wait for those pics... cool bison pics.. take care!!

  15. What a day is right! Another gorgeous place that needs to go on my List! The bison are awesome!

  16. Who knew badlands could be so good. Great bison.

  17. Never knew North Dakota was so pretty. Love the bison giving you looks :-)

  18. I am SO behind in blog reading--I'll never catch up! One year Lizzie and I were walking/hiking in the grasslands (I can still smell that wonderful sweet aroma) and came face to face with a lone bison as it came over a ridge. What to do. We stood still. Lizzie didn't move a muscle and neither did it. We stood feet from the huge creature as he/she stared us for what seemed an hour, and then decided to turn around and go back over the ridge.Whew! Next day I wound up in the hospital with an emergency at the same time they brought a man in who had been where we were and was gored. My surgeon left me to get to him, but it was too late. He died. They say more people are killed by Bison than any other animal. I had no idea they were in the area. You and David look great. I have missed reading blogs but had out of town company and a delightful time catching up with an old friend. I'll try to back track to catch up. So glad you are in the west. :)

  19. Wow! The rock formations are beautiful! Love the bison- the cute little bison calf is really cute. I saw some buffalo in Utah. Are buffalo and bison the same animal? Love the photo of the painted pasture- so pretty. Looks like an impressionistic painting. What a fantastic place! I'm enjoying the pictures!

  20. Wow! That was some day! Awesome photos of the bison. And the painted horse. Amazing. Awesome!

  21. I think it is great that you hike all of the trails instead of just driving around the loop. I had looked into a workamping job in Medora and your pictures have me interested in the area again.

    1. Hey Teri, If you look into Medora make sure you ask your employer where the closest services like grocery, laundryt etc are. There is no grocery in the town and I'm not sure how far away you'd have to go.

  22. Great photos. Another place to visit.

    Don't forget to update the Duckie View.

    1. Thanks Marsha, that's definitely not what the Duckies think now.

  23. Beautiful and yes, some formations do look like Bryce Canyon. That up top view was gorgeous. Neat to see the bison up close-great catch of your smile in the side view :) I totally agree that was a Casper the Ghost sighting! Ha :)

  24. My husband and I were at Roosevelt National Park in 2010, and I agree - it's a marvelous and beautiful place. Reading your post was like reliving our visit - great pictures and wonderful commentary!

  25. So much more variety than I had envisioned - love the pics! Yes, definitely big eyebrows on the first face :-). Love that you don't let a little mud stop your hikes! I've been reading of possible El Nino conditions in late August and September and thought "That must be when David and Sherry will be here" :-)))))

  26. I had no idea ND was so pretty. I expected it to be nothing but flat prairie. Now I'm wondering if we can fit in a trip to TR NP next year. Thanks for sharing Sherry.

  27. I believe that first selfie is the best pic I ever seen of you and David. Worth framing!! Loved the post and lots ot comment on.....Yes, I can see the resemblance to Bryce, but my first thought was that it reminded me of the Tent Rocks hike near Albuquerque. Also, wouldn't it be nice to know how many of your readers had no idea who Casper, the Friendly Ghost was!! LOL! At least Carrie did, so I see you were good parents. I bet she also knows who Curious George is. Hope you are having equally as much fun today. Can't wait to read about it.

  28. Geez, I've GOT to start proofing my comments before posting before I give credibility to the notion that southerners can't spell!

  29. Sure was a great day. I love all the rock formations. I never tire of the bison. I must have a thousand photos. They are such neat creatures. The horse in the painted pasture is a gorgeous photo. The pasture really does look painted. We weren't into hiking yet when we were there so we did lots of motorcycle trips. We also made one very long drive to see the site of Teddy's ranch. John wanted to stand where he had stood. We were the only ones that made trip!! It was us and the trucks on the road...many stops for the dust clouds. We may need to return someday just to hike. Sure is pretty.

  30. oh goodness. . .I'm so happy you are there first.

    My brother and SIL is going to meet us there. . .it'll be so great to have a preview!

    Guess I've fallen off you blog reading list again. . .? ? ?

  31. So glad you got some warmth and no bugs! I LOVE those wide open spaces - and, the roaming buffalo... lovely faces!! So many pretty rocks too.

  32. Timing is everything! And when it works in our favor, it gives us special memories.

  33. WOW! what a great day you have! and your faces says it all! This will definitely on our stop sometime next year. Steve just commented, so there is something to do in ND! Thanks for the sneak peak. Your captures are always great!

  34. How did I ever miss TR NP. Magnificent scenery, plus all those real deal bison up close and rather personal.

  35. What a gorgeous hike, I was happy to see some invasive plants are appreciated. So many disrupt habitat or "take over" so natives can't grow. But the bison...I'm have a bison jam any day!


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