Roaring down I-94 on the way to report for duty in Glendive, MT, I chanced to happen upon a rest stop/visitor center for the Painted Canyon. Not having a clue, I pulled over to check it out. And proceeded to fall more deeply in love with the Badlands. This portion of the Badlands sits just east of Medora, ND. Though still partial to our own Makoshika State Park, you will quickly see why this trip is well worth it. About an hour east of Glendive and perhaps half way to Bismarck from Glendive, it requires a side trip into Medora. No worries; this is a requirement no one could possibly mind.
And so, let’s revisit Painted Canyon first. the visitr center is located 7 miles east of Medora on I-94. Before you stop, be prepared to have your breath taken away! Also, be prepared to see Bison up close and personal as they do, on occasion, wander through and around the visitor center’s grounds.
On this day, no Bison in the visitor center grounds, but there were a few on the canyon floor. This was the only one I could get a picture of. They are in their “summer” coat at the moment. And more intent on grazing than gazing at tourists. But never, ever say “moo” at them or taunt them in any way. They can outrun a horse so it’s a given they can outrun YOU. And do some incredible damage to your car…
Painted Canyon Nature Trail is accessible from the visitor center grounds. It is an 0.9 mile loop that will involved some hiking down to the canyon floor and back up. Take some water, watch your step and steer clear of the Bison!
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is named after, well, Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy visited the Dakotas in 1883 to hunt buffalo. Like many of us, he fell under the spell of the Badlands. He owned two ranches in ND. His original cabin sits behind the visitor center at the entrance to the park in Medora, ND.
The park contains a 36 mile loop that has enough scenery to make anyone’s heart soar at its shear beauty. Their are hiking trails and trails for horseback. Don’t own your own horse? No problem. There are rental horses in the park and guided horseback tours available as well.
Camping? Oh my, yes, the park has that too.
And wildlife? Wild horses, prairie dogs, bison, elk, mule deer, golden eagles and more! And plenty of flora and fauna as well. There are scenic overviews along the loop. Be prepared to stop as the car in front of you may have spotted some playful prairie dogs or grazing bison. Travelers are not supposed to stop in the road, but, it will happen, so keep an eye on the car in front of you.
If you plan to visit the parks, please make plans to visit Medora. More than that, make lodging or campground reservations and purchase tickets for Medora Musical. The musical is seasonal, so check it out when planning your visit. Just within the past month, Kat Perkins of “The Voice” fame performed there.
And don’t forget your camera and your wallet. Medora is a shopping mecca. But it will surprise you when you see it. It is NOT a mall or a shopping strip. It is tasteful, attractive and enticing! You have been warned. ;)
Turning the horses (in my Honda’s engine), I headed for home. Once again, I found that “Home on the Range” and fields of sunflowers. Sunflowers as far as the eye can see.
When traveling through North Dakota or Montana – in warm weather – one must open the windows and the car vents and breathe in that clean air scented by the flowers, the hay, the clover and the sagebrush! I wish I could add a “scratch ‘n sniff” feature; one has to smell to believe how incredible it is.
And there you have it for this edition from The Sandhills Sandbox. Hope you enjoy the journey and the pictures as much as I did. And for any of my home slices that want to come visit, just give me a holler. Friends and family are always welcome! We’ll keep a light on… :D