Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Old Aug 9th, 2011, 05:20 PM
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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Help! We are headed west next week on our fourth family x-country trek, and there are only three states the kids need to check off for the Lower 48. North Dakota is one of them.

We're going west to Mt. Rushmore, and then we'll head up to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for a day before heading off to Yellowstone for a few days. There's a somewhat limited window of opportunity, and I don't want to sacrifice time at Yellowstone for TRNP. No offense to Teddy, but I suspect there's a reason why Yellowstone is one of the premier parks in the world, and almost no one I've talked to has ever heard of TRNP.

We should arrive at Mt. Rushmore the afternoon of 8/15, and we can see the museum, the movie(s) at the visitor's center, do the Junior Ranger thing, and see the evening lighting. We'll stay in a hotel. The next morning, 8/16, we would leave early & head to TRNP, about a 5 or 6 hour drive, putting us there mid-day. I'm not familiar with TRNP or have an appreciation for its size or accessibility, but I think (hope) we can spend the afternoon there & be out by dark.

Here's the dilemma: We have one huge tent but would rather not set it up for one night in ND. Does anyone have any comments or recommendations on lodging, either near TRNP, or perhaps in Montana... maybe Glendive or Miles City? Is it feasible to make it to Billings?

Anyone have any strong opinions about how much time to spend in TRNP that we should consider?

I'm trying to figure that side trip out so that I can make campground reservations at Yellowstone pronto, because I know that window is closing.

Thanks Fodorites!!
sweens66 is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2011, 07:18 PM
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Hi, my wife and I just went through that area in June. The hotels are very booked with oil field workers. The hotels that have openings are not rated very well on T.A.. We stayed in Glendive, MT. at a bed n breakfast called charley montana. I think the link is .It was our first time ever staying in a BnB and they couldn't have been nicer. They were up bright and early making breakfast getting us on our way. On I94 there is a rest stop near the Park with a great view and wildlife galore at night.I know this is a little off topic but if you play golf Bully Pulpit golf course is a gorgous looking place to play.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 05:11 PM
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Wish I could tell you how much time to take at the park. We went there as part of a cross country adventure and got there kind of late in the afternoon. We took the scenic route around, though may not have gone the entire loop. We were trying to get to Mandan by dark, so were rushed.
All I can say is that it was wonderful and I put it on the backburner for another longer visit when the time is right. Pres Roosevelt went there after his wife had died and found comfort. I could understand why. And as a visit for the state of North Dakota you have chosen well.

I thought the little town of Medora would be a good place to stay, but things could have changed there by now.
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Old Aug 20th, 2011, 06:48 PM
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Badlands Motel in Medora. The entrance to TRNP (southern part) is 2-3 blocks away. Make reservations soon.

Here is an excerpt on "where to stay" from my report.

If you want to stay near the north section, lodging is a long ways away in Williston and Dickinson, North Dakota or Sidney, Montana. But good luck even getting a room in any of those places. The oil boom (along with the potash boom) in the region means few beds are available. We could not find one single room several days in advance in mid-May, which is off-season.

In the south section of the park there are more lodging options, but even several of the places listed in AAA had no availability, again due to the oil workers. We stayed at Badlands Motel in Medora, with badlands outside the door and the park entrance a couple of blocks away.

Badlands Motel is very basic and had good heating (also AC but too cold for that) and was extremely clean. Badlands offers a AAA discount and has cable TV and WIFI.

Trip Advisor had many negative comments about train noise at Badlands Motel. There are tracks that run past the motel, but we were never bothered by the noise during our 2-night stay. A couple times I walked outside and saw/heard the train, but did not notice it inside. We had a room as far away from the tracks as possible, near the pool and mini-golf, so that might have helped. While pool and mini-golf can generate their own noise, at least there is no midnight mini-golf or swims under the stars to keep you up at night.

A fancier option, under the same management as Badlands, is the Rough Riders Hotel, a couple streets away in Medora, a charming 4-block town, population 100.

But I bet any accommodation is fancier than where Teddy Roosevelt stayed on his first visit. According to The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkely: A “gruff manager…ushered him to a cot in a large communal room…alongside touchy frontiersmen and saddle-sore wranglers, it all looked very primitive. The wash basin where he tried to shave was clogged with dirty water and stubble, and the hotel towel was soiled with alkali dust. Instead of complaining Roosevelt relished the lack of amenities.”

This is a link to the whole TRNP report.
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