I feel like I owe North Dakota an apology, I thought it would be lame. We had every intention of skipping most of it and heading to South Dakota for Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. Hot temperatures and Sturgis fast approaching made us decide on a last minute switch to head to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota instead. It was an excellent decision! So here is why we loved our North Dakota experience:
The Fargo Blues Festival- It’s been going on for 21 years and you can camp for $30 at the Fargodome for the whole weekend. This made it perfect for us to enjoy the show and have a place to crash for a great price. We listened to the deep, soulful tones of Joanna Shaw and a current favorite of ours Canned Heat. Next time you go on a road trip listen to Canned Heat and it will really get you in the mood to hit the open road!
Theodore Roosevelt National Park- One of the least visited of the national parks, we loved how we could explore at our own pace and had the hiking trails mostly to ourselves. This park is also a badlands area and the sweeping cliffs and rock formations were a sight to behold. Our first day we drove the 36 mile scenic drive and hiked several small trails through the park. At times we felt like we were on another planet, like Mars, except for the occasional green growth of plant life. We visited the South Unit and the Painted Canyon areas. We also toured the cabin where President Roosevelt spent time back in the day. There were lots of grassland areas that we enjoyed viewing wildlife in. We saw lots of little prairie dog communities and enjoyed watching them run to and from each others houses and listening to them chirp and bark at each other. We searched for the Bison herd for days, occasionally seeing one alone at a distance, but we really wanted to see the herd! Our last day in the park we went to Wind Canyon point to watch the sunset, the sunsets are amazing from there, and about 9pm we were leaving the park and came across the herd crossing the road. It was truly an awesome sight watching hundreds of the massive creatures move through the night and cross the road. I was happy to see how many babies were in the herd. Entrance to the park was $20 for 7 days but we have a National Park Pass for the year that cost $80 and allows us entrance into all the National Parks.
Maah Daah Hey Trail- We spent a day mountain biking the Maah Daah Hey Trail. This trail is 120 miles long and is used by mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians. We biked a small section near the national park. The views were incredible and the terrain was easy enough for a beginner mountain biker like me but also challenging with difficult climbs, creek crossings, and adrenaline pumping drop-ins to get the heart pumping. We also did a small section of the trail near our campsite that included a river crossing we had to carry our bikes across! We didn’t see another soul the entire time, I totally recommend this trail for people looking for a fun and serene experience.
Sully Creek State Campground- This is where we spent our four nights in North Dakota while we explored Theodore Roosevelt. It is a primitive campsite for tent camping, RV’s and trailers, and has a special section for equestrians. It was really neat to see the horses every day and a great location right on the Maah Daah Hey trail for bikers, hikers and equestrians. No hook ups, but we are rocking solar now and able to go off the grid! It was an easy and scenic three mile drive from the historical western town of Medora and the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt. Sites were large and many had a killer view of the canyon walls. Camping was $12 per night but you need to have a North Dakota Sate Park pass or it’s an additional $5 per night. The passes are $25 for the year. They also had amazing hot coin operated showers that we took full advantage of for a $1. One of my favorite things staying here was walking back from the showers looking at the huge expanse of night sky.
All in all, an amazing stay perfect for those seeking adventure, beauty, and wildlife away from the crowds.