On one of my frequent drives from Montana to Wisconsin, I chose to take an extra day off and stopped at Theodore Roosevelt National Park right off of I-94 in North Dakota.
I arrived around 3pm and had all afternoon and evening to hike around. Good news, very few bears in the area, so hiking alone was not a problem. I did have to keep my eyes open for rattle snakes and bison, but my fear of those seem less than that of grizzlies.
Coincidentally, I arrived at the park the day before the 100 year celebration of the National Park Service, so unlike most week days during the summer, the campground was quickly filled with visitors motivated to celebrate this great occasion.
True to the unpredictable weather on the plains, I packed for the hot, dry weather that had been around for the last month, but experienced weather that was a bit cooler than expected. It was only 62 degrees through the day, and down to 40 at night. Good thing I packed the right kind of gear and clothing (layers).
I always spend time at the visitor center at each park because it is always so surprising how little I know about each park’s history. The NPS does a good job with providing background information, fun tourist gift items and memorabilia. They also have the expertise to share information on the the park, hiking and other items of interest. I encourage you always to stop at the visitor’s center and be surprised at how cool they can be.
I camped the night and spent time at the visitor’s center on my way out the next morning. It was cloudy so my pictures do not capture the beautiful colors of the canyons and cliffs.
One great part of this trip was seeing how many people of a certain age (probably retired) still tent camp. Sure there were a bunch of RVs too, but a lot of people my age and older are still tent camping. I was very inspired by this. Although I think it is time for a new tent. This one is great for backpacking and quick set ups, but its not really enough room for hanging out and getting comfortable (maybe that is my age speaking).
What I learned about the Park:
It is in the middle of no where, with a wide open sky. The stars at night, were amazing. I very pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this park. The wonderful thing is, all these parks are beautiful, each in their own way. I found the landscape feeding my soul with its starkness but amazing colors and energy. It was a nice surprise.
What I learned about myself:
I am hoping to continue tent camping for the rest of my life (I’m not saying that at some point I would be opposed to including some RVish type camping as well, but like to think that tents will ALWAYS be an option for me). There is nothing like being just a thin nylon tent wall away from the wilds, knowing I can deal with the elements, that I will feel, really feel the air, the temperature, hear the sounds and feel the changes as they happen throughout the night. The other great reminder is that knowing I don’t really need much “stuff” to be happy.
My advice to you:
A trip to a park does not need to be some big deal that takes 10 days of vacation and a 20 hour car ride or the cost of a plane ticket. There are a lot of parks, forests and trails EVERYWHERE, even where you live. Find something in your area and JUST GET OUT THERE and enjoy being active (or still and quiet) outside!!!
Share your thoughts:
When were you surprised by simple beauty?
More Information about TRNP
When Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was a skinny, young, spectacled dude from New York. He could not have imagined how his adventure in this remote and unfamiliar place would forever alter the course of the nation. The rugged landscape and strenuous life that TR experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today.
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