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North Dakota, First Time

July 23 - 25, 2017:  

Traveling to North Dakota started out to be just a way for us to justify putting a new state sticker on our rig.  That did get accomplished and a whole lot more!



The drive from Sturgis SD to Dickinson SD was our regular distance of around 220 miles.  However, the landscape on the way was pretty much baron.  To give the area some credit, they are going through a very bad drought so everything looks real brown.  The brown grass really exaggerates the vast desolation of the area.  It got a little better as we made the turn off of US 85 on to eastbound I 94. We started to see houses and lots of oil wells.  


Mile after mile of seeing this!

Then you see this in the distance and now we have something to look forward to!

Oh wow, another vehicle!

We look a little lonely here on a bathroom break.

Starting to see some signs of civilization again!

Drilling a new oil well.

Patty picked a town park this time, the Patterson Campground in the Dickinson Patterson Lake Reservoir.  The reason we are in this city is mostly a mistake.  We somehow thought that the state fair was being held here.  The state fair is actually being held in Minot about 170 miles north of us! We didn’t find out that the fair was not in Dickinson until we had been there a day and were trying to find out where it was.  



Our site while in North Dakota

View out my window.

Views of Patterson Lake from door


Patty had us originally staying here in Dickinson before we decided to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Then we were going to stay in Medora SD.  So we decided to move our plans back to Dickinson and go to the state fair and travel to the national park from Dickinson.  We decided to do it this way because the town park was nicer and cheaper.  No state fair but here we are anyway!

We stayed 3 nights in Dickinson which gives us 2 full days to roam around and see and do what we can while there.  We decided on day one to play golf at a municipal golf course, Heart River Golf Course.  




This was a relatively hard course and it wasn’t as cheap as we thought it would be.  

The cost was $88 for the 2 of us with a cart.  We couldn’t complain too much as the course was in great shape and the cart was almost new!  However, the course was one of most difficult courses we have played.  This course is one of those that would be much easier if you had played here more than just a couple of times. 


Yes that's me.  One of the easier par 5s.

The idea here is to drive the ball through the trees onto a dogleg right fairway.

After golf we went for a bite to eat!  Not a great place but sort of interesting.

Place was decorated in what seemed to be roadside memorabilia.


Our second and best day by far was at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The park was about 30 miles from us in Dickinson.  We started our visit with the first limited entrance to the park, the Painted Canyon Visitors Center off of I 94 west bound.  This area of the park is free and you can stop with an RV as there is loads of parking.  



We took the 2 mile hike into the canyon.  This was a nice hike that was labeled moderate mostly due to the fairly steep grade going into and out of the canyon.  We enjoyed it!


Trail views.














After the Painted Canyon we went to the town of Medora and had lunch.  We also did a fast walk around the touristy town and visited a few of the gift shops.  The town is sort of made up like it was back in the 1800s.  That was nice to see but it was just way too touristy for us.  It would be good to just skip that.


Lunch place in Medora.  Only take cash so we had to find an ATM first.

After lunch and spending about an hour in Medora we headed to the main park entrance. We entered the park from what they call the south entrance and first visited the visitor center there.  The visitors center was just OK, but we did get a very good map of the park.


Hotel in Medora.

View of the Medora.

Our intention was to just drive the 19 mile loop inside the park and see what we could see.  The small hike that we did at Painted Canyon before lunch was enough for us. We didn’t think we would hike again today but you just never know, we may see one we want to do.  



Now for the best experience we have had at any National Park yet.  The loop road is mostly a 35 mile an hour road that winds its way around the inside of the park.  Within the first mile we had wild horses crossing the road.  How great is that! And then we went through one of the many prairie dog towns that dot the road every few miles.  Prairie dogs are really fun to watch! For the first 4-5 miles of the loop we were seeing bison off in the distance and were hoping to see some up close.  We were not denied that experience at all! 





One of the many "prairie dog cities" along the loop.

What, you look'n at me!

About half way along the loop road we pulled in behind another car that looked like they were watching something.  If someone stopped, everybody stopped to see what you were seeing. It’s sort of funny, everybody was doing that.  Anyway, as I pulled into the spot behind the other car Patty excitedly yells “backup buffalo”.  I was like an octopus trying to stop, look out the window, and backup all at once.  And there they were 2 bison about 300 feet away.  Looked like a mother and her calf.  OK, that was really great!



Hard to see here but this was as close to bison as we thought we were going to get.  They are the little brown dots all of the way in the back.

First bison we could see. Could make out the shape of a bison so there was no doubt they were, in fact, bison.

Now we are feeling pretty good that we got to see some wildlife up close.  We saw wild horses, prairie dogs, and now a couple of bison that were pretty close.  As we were recounting our experiences we came around a bend in the road and WOW, a whole damn herd of bison were crossing the road.  They were not only crossing they were walking down the road as if we weren’t there! The bison crossing took about 15 minutes.  Then just as most of them passed 3-4 little ones popped up over the ridge running as fast as they could to catch up!  Just for a minute I thought one of them might hit the truck!  That was absolutely a great experience!


A few more bison at somewhat close range.

And then WOW!  Bison herd!




This one was the king of the herd.
He was huge and he walked like he owned the heard.





Wait for us!!



Bye Bye!

When it rains it pours wild bison and horses it seems!  Just around the next corner is another herd of bison.  And then just a little further up was another herd of wild horses!  


Another herd of bison.

More wild horses!

What a great day and a great stay in North Dakota!  And to think this was just a stop for a new decal on our map!


We had some visitors to our site too!  This is a yellow headed black bird.

A red headed sparrow.

Patty didn't get enough exercise hiking!
Really though, this is in the park where we were parked.

Sunset over Patterson Lake after a great visit to North Dakota!


Next stop is another new state for us, Montana.

Stay Tuned!

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