Thursday, October 29, 2009

Theodore Roosevelt NP

In North Dakota, I visited Theodore Roosevelt NP. It was a long drive from SD, so I decided to stay there a bit longer (almost 2 days) and visit it thoroughly. Theodore Roosevelt NP protects some of the North Dakota's Bad Lands. It is divided in two main sections, North and South. The South Section is easy to access from I-94, whereas the North Section is around one hour drive from that highway. Both places are kind of different. The North was an area covered by glaciers. Therefore, hills were carved by them. The South is the area created when those glaciers melted. The North has the coolest hills in my opinion. They are more colorful and color stripes are better defined. In the South, it is more like many hills many of which do not even have color bands. Fauna is just amazing in both places: snakes, bison, deers, wild horses, prairie dogs... This NP was named after Theodore Roosevelt for two reasons. The first one is he was living in this area for most of his youth, and learned the tough ways of the Badlands. Due to his close contact with nature, he started appreciating how truly unique nature is and he learned to respect nature. The second reason is that, when he became president of the United States, he did a lot to consolidate the National Park System and protect many areas in the country.

I started my visit just off I-94, in the vista point called Painted Canyon. It is an overlook of one of the parts of the South Section and it is so easy to access that it is a mandatory stop to start getting a feeling for this park.

My next stop was the North Section. It was simply spectacular! Striped hills with many many herds of bison!

There is a road that gets into the section and at whose end, the view is amazing. You can see a river lazily bending in the badlands.

After all day driving and hiking in the North Section, I decided to go to the South to catch the sunset there and put up my tent to spend the night there. That night was extremely cold. I have never experienced something similar. The temperature went negative (in C, or below 32F) and a thin layer of ice covered the inside of my tent. I woke up at around 5.30am and had to go into my car to try to warm up a little bit. After a lot of effort, I managed to remove the ice and wrap the tent up so I could keep on moving. My hands became ice in the process and really hurt for a while. Not kidding.

That morning, I wanted to complete the scenic drive loop in the South Section, so I started driving before dawn. I saw the sunrise as I was driving.

When the sun started lighting the park, I could notice it was really different from the North Section. So many low-rising hills... and not so colorful... At dawn, there were many animals feeding.

Before leaving, I stopped to see some bison for the last time in this trip and to play a little bit with prairie dogs.

As I was leaving, I visited the original cabin used by Theodore Roosevelt and which is now located at the entrance of the NP.

After that, a long drive South, to visit Badlands NP in South Dakota.

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