Friday, October 14, 2005

Dickinson, ND - Roosevelt Nat'l Park

On Tuesday we headed to Theodore Roosevelt eventhough Dickinson was still fogged-in. Luckily, about three miles out of town, the fog lifted. Dickinson sits in a little valley and was probably going to be fogged-in for hours. It made me think of San Francisco!

"I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota", said Theodore Roosevelt. It was known as a rugged and harsh land. I found it beautiful and appealing. Part Badlands, part grasslands. Expansive - as far as the eye could see. With the Little Missouri River cutting through it and several creeks it offered more life than the Badlands in SD. More trees - cedars, junipers, cottonwoods, etc. On Tuesday we toured the South Unit and saw lots of wildlife: hawks (an unknown variety), golden eagles, bison, elk, wild horses, pronghorn antelopes, prairie dogs, etc. On our first short hike of the day we saw a group of wild horses down in the valley below us. Andy tried to communicate, but sent out some sort of dying-horse neigh, which scared them into a run. As they came up over a small hill, they stopped dead when they saw a grazing bison. This then caused a herd of elk to start running, too. A rare opportunity to have them all in one small area.
We were told not to worry about the prairie rattlesnakes. The ranger said the snakes don't come out unless the temperature was 70-90 degrees. And since it's in the 50's we shouldn't see any. Someone needed to tell this bull snake it was too cold to be out:
Most of the snow has since melted inside the park. Which was a shame since I could imagine how pretty it would be here with snow covering the ground. The melting snow also meant "mud". So our hikes were varied at times:

The grey colors in these badlands are from Bentonite Clay. They use this stuff to grease the oil well drills. When it's wet it is either very slick, or if it's deep it's like gumbo and you sink. So sometimes one foot is sliding while the other one is suctioned in like quicksand. It made for some challenging hikes. Needless to say we were covered in mud by the end of our hikes.

On Wednesday, we toured the less-visited North Unit. Just as breath-taking as the South. Andy thought it was more dramatic. I'm just gonna post some pictures and hope it gives you a sense of what this park looked like and the variety it holds:

Had to post this pic...we don't get to see many coyotes. And isn't he a beaut!


At 2:24 PM , Jim said...

We are sending you a compass, since you obviously cannot find your way south.
The pix are wonderful!


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