After driving through the extremely scenery deprived east side of North Dakota, I finally came upon a rest stop called Painted Canyon. It also said it was an overlook for the badlands of Teddy Roosevelt National Park.
To back track a bit, I should say the park was really nothing I had ever heard of before until I thought that this roadtrip would be a good opportunity for me to hit a state that I would never really have a desire to see, North Dakota, unless I had the time and the remotest of reasons to go there.
So, one slow night at work, I did a bit of searching on the internet and found Teddy Roosevelt National Park. It appeared that it’d be just the reason I’d be looking for so I could cross North Dakota off my list of states that still need to be visited.
But, what to do in the park?
From what I read, there was a small bit of wildlife viewing and a few hiking trails available. Since I like both, I figured it’d be great for a quick overnight stop in the area with a hike in the morning before continuing on to Yellowstone National Park, a place that I’ve wanted to see for a while and figured, on a whim, that I’d do after heading home for my annual Minnesota State Fair trip.
More on Yellowstone in my next entry though.
When I arrived at the rest stop it was nearing dusk. I was able to get a good view of the badlands though, along with a few photos, while I spied a few bison grazing near the parking lot. But, that wasn’t good enough, I wanted a closer view.
After driving through the small, and very touristy, town of Medora, I decided to see if I could still get into the park for the night and get a quick glimpse, and understanding of the layout, so I could be a bit more efficient for my hike the next morning.
After driving for about 30 minutes I finally came to, from what I could tell, was the first obvious trail that I could hike on. I had passed a few more bison, and some mule deer, in the process, but nothing was terribly inspiring at this point.
The scenery was nice, and I’m sure I would’ve seen many more interesting things had I decided to stay, but after getting this quick view of the park I was inspired to head on closer to Yellowstone. I thought that if what I’m seeing now is beautiful, surely what I’ll see in Yellowstone, the nation’s first national park, will be that much more impressive.
So, after a quick dusk drive through Teddy Roosevelt National Park, I decided to head further west and get a jump on my Wednesday drive into Yellowstone, ultimately stopping for the night in Miles City, Montana for what was thankfully only one night.
The city, which certainly wasn’t much more than some fast food stops and a few hotels from what I could see, sits about an hours drive west of Glendive. By the look of it, it’s simply used as a stopping off point of tired truckers and motorists since all of the rooms in the hotel I stayed at were filled with the one smoking room I ultimately ended up getting for the night…only to relearn the lesson of why I don’t rent smoking rooms.
The drive through the west side of North Dakota, and Montana, was an impressive one though. The scenery was beautiful and quickly made me understand why Montana is referred to as Big Sky. The sky there truly did seem much more expansive than most anywhere else I’ve ever been, and ultimately added to the beauty of the area.
In hindsight for this stop though, I wish I had had another day available to me on my trip. I would’ve liked to have spent a day better exploring Teddy Roosevelt National Park, but there was no way I wanted to give up any of the days I had in Yellowstone or in Minnesota, to which I actually needed more time there as well.
But, for what I had available, I’m glad I played it out the way I did. Teddy Roosevelt National Park was beautiful, and is a good, and rare, reason to visit North Dakota, and I’m glad I took advantage of the opportunity, and not just to cross a state off my list.