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Trip Report VISIT TO NORTH DAKOTA’S THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK IN MAY

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PHOTOS

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78 labeled photos.

First 30--after one of me and my hair sticking straight up from the wind—are the wild horses. The last 16 are prairie dogs facing every which way.

President Roosevelt’s quotes are in brown.

NORTH AND SOUTH SECTIONS OF THE PARK

Both north and south are beautiful and worth visiting if time permits.

The badlands are the prevalent feature in either section, described by Teddy Roosevelt as “so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth."

The northern and southern sections of the park are separated by a 70/75-mph paved highway, a 1.25 hour drive. While there are some scenic views on this highway with a few spots to pull over, it is not a meandering in-the-park transfer. The two sections are really like separate parks.

North = Badland terrain slightly more prevalent than the south from what I noted. The paved northern loop is14 miles through 24,000 acres.

South = Abundant badland terrain, but not as rocky as north. The paved southern loop is 36 miles through 46,000 acres.

Herds of about 140 wild horses roam the southern section and we were privileged to be surrounded by horses at one point for close views of their daily routine. On each southern section drive we encountered numerous horses in different parts of the park.

The northern section of the park has a small herd of around 14 Long Horned Steers that run wild “to reflect the living landscape as Roosevelt experienced,” (as stated in the park brochure) and we saw 4 of them.

There are some Big Horn Sheep in the north, but we did not see them, perhaps because the extremely high winds made it too dangerous for the sheep to stand on the cliffs. So they took refuge in better protected, less accessible areas.

Otherwise, the wildlife is the same in the north and south, but more abundant and visible in the south.

Wildlife Sightings included:
- Buffalo in herds and single buffalos (every outing)
- Prairie dog towns with hundreds of them, but they sleep in until about 9 am
- Mule deer
- Long Horned Steer (north)
- Wild horses (saw some every outing! in the south)
- a single Pronghorn in the south (many seen from the highways nearby)
- one Smooth Green Snake in north
- one Wild Turkey in the south
- numerous raptors
- frequent views of the beautiful Mountain Bluebird
- lots of Yellow Headed Blackbirds

Often seen are elk, but we did not see them.

Husband sighting worth noting:
-My husband imitated the prairie dog danger stretch and alarm call. He really caught the attention of several of these creatures as he raised his hands over his head, arched his back, and chirped, just like they do. I think there should be a yoga position named after this elongated prairie dog stretch.

Non-wildlife sighting worth noting:
-In Medora a very elderly gentleman using a walker inched his way toward his pickup, tossed the walker in the bed of the truck, hobbled into the driver’s seat, and sped off.

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