Sunday, June 24, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Scenic Loop

After our tour of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Visitors Center and the Maltese Cross Cabin that we recently blogged about we drove the Scenic Loop of the South Unit of the park near Medora North Dakota.

This part of North Dakota completely blew us away, who knew? We were expecting the flat farm land just like in the eastern part of the state. Here we found the Badlands, exposed surfaces of stone and clay that erosion has formed into some very interesting formations. We were amazed at the many different colors; many shades of browns, red, grays and yellows that appear in buttes, pyramids, domes, and cones. The area also contains lignite coal and seams of this coal have been burning for many years. The clay above, of volcanic origin, has been turned bright pink and red, which we saw on our driving tour. The highest point of North Dakota at 3506 feet, White Butte, is in the area.

The Scenic Loop starts just after the Visitors Center. What we liked about the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is how close the wildlife is. Prairie Dog Town is right next to the road.

Scoria overlook; scoria is the name given the clay turned red by the heat below it.

The many colors of the Badlands.

We mentioned how close the wildlife was and the wild horses were a great example. Funny thing is that the first time we saw them some of them were in a ravine where you could barely the tops of them. There was no traffic so we stopped the truck and tried to get a photo thinking that may be our only chance. Lo and behold around the next bend we see this right next to the road.

There were bison also but the traffic on a Sunday always seemed to be at its peak whenever we could take a good photo.

We did not get a chance to see any petrified wood due to our short stay but the Theodore Roosevelt National Park contains the third largest collection of petrified wood after the Petrified Forest National Park and Yellowstone. Here is a sample from the visitors center of a bald cypress tree.

There is so much more to see in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (three entrances and three visitors centers) and in the Medora area that we plan to come back again. Hopefully the next time we will have more than 3 nights. Thanks to our friend Joyce who suggested Medora as a stopover.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo


  1. You got a whole herd of horses!!!! Cool! We found Medora on our trip to SD for licenses, etc., as we embarked on fulltiming. It is ND's treasure!

  2. We were just like you...blown away. What a lovely part of the country you are in.

  3. I am glad you had a good time :) I live near the north unit of the park. Has the bison but no wild horses, however, it is by far the most spectacular section of the park. Sadly, the scenic loop has been washed out so it can't be taken advantage of but if you get the chance to come back next year, the road should be fixed and the views should still be gorgeous.