Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an American national park comprising three geographically separated areas of badlands in western North Dakota. The park was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. It has three sections: the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit.
The park’s larger South Unit lies alongside Interstate 94 near Medora, North Dakota. The smaller North Unit is situated about 80 mi (130 km) north of the South Unit, on U.S. Route 85, just south of Watford City, North Dakota. Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is located between the North and South units, approximately 20 mi (32 km) west of US 85 and Fairfield, North Dakota. The Little Missouri River flows through all three units of the park. The Maah Daah Hey Trail connects all three units.
Roosevelt first came to the North Dakota badlands to hunt bison in September 1883. During that first short trip, he got his bison and fell in love with the rugged lifestyle and the “perfect freedom” of the West. He invested $14,000 in the Maltese Cross Ranch, which was already being managed by Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield seven miles south of Medora. That winter, Ferris and Merrifield built the Maltese Cross Cabin. After the death of both his wife and his mother on February 14, 1884, Teddy Roosevelt returned to his North Dakota ranch seeking solitude and time to heal. That summer, he started his second ranch, the Elkhorn Ranch, 35 miles north of Medora, which he hired two Maine woodsmen, Bill Sewall and Wilmot Dow, to operate. Teddy Roosevelt took great interest in his ranches and in hunting in the West, detailing his experiences in pieces published in eastern newspapers and magazines. He wrote three major works on his life in the West: Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman and The Wilderness Hunter. His adventures in “the strenuous life” outdoors and the loss of his cattle in the starvation winter in 1886–1887 were influential in Theodore Roosevelt’s pursuit of conservation policies as President of the United States (1901–1909).
Both main units of the park have scenic drives, approximately 100 miles of foot and horse trails, wildlife viewing, and opportunities for back country hiking and camping. There are three developed campgrounds: Juniper Campground in the North Unit, Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit, and the Roundup Group Horse Campground in the South Unit.
One of the most popular attractions is wildlife viewing. The park is home to a wide variety of Great Plains wildlife including bison, coyotes, cougars, feral horses, badgers, elk, bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer and mule deer, prairie dogs, and at least 186 species of birds including golden eagles, sharp-tailed grouse, and wild turkeys. Bison may be dangerous and visitors are advised to view them from a distance. Bison, elk, and bighorn sheep have been successfully reintroduced to the park.
The scenery changes constantly in relationship with the seasons. The brown, dormant grass dominates from late summer through the winter, but explodes into green color in the early summer along with hundreds of species of flowering plants. Winter can be a beautiful scene as snow covers the sharp terrain of the badlands and locks the park into what Theodore Roosevelt called “an abode of iron desolation.
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We had been working from home for two months due to COVID-19 and had to cancel five trips including one to Spain and Portugal. With that, the stress of work, and everything else going on, we decided we need a change of scenery. If we had to work from home, why not work from somebody else’s home?
Deciding where to go took a little bit. We had to find an area drivable to Texas within a week that was dog friendly and had a lot of outdoor activities since many typical tourist destinations were closed (including many national and state parks). After quite a bit of research, we ended up picking Colorado as our destination as parks had just opened up and it wasn’t too far. Memorial Day weened just happened to be very next weekend so we decided to use the long weekend, meaning we only had five days to plan!
We quickly picked some Airbnb’s and got ready for our trip. It was very easy to pack because I was only going to wear activewear for the full week. With that, my hiking boots, and our dog’s stuff, we hopped into my Jeep on Thursday night after work and took off to Amarillo. We broke up the 11 hour drive to Colorado Springs with a 5-6 hour overnight in Amarillo and then a Friday morning to Colorado Springs. The drive to Amarillo is pretty boring we got some Chick-fil-A for dinner and arrived in one piece around 11 PM. We stayed at the Hilton Home2 Suites hotel on the way back from New Mexico one New Years Eve after driving through a blizzard. We knew the Home2 Suites was brand new, clean, cheap, and dog friendly, so we felt comfortable staying there one night. It was so weird seeing so many people at the hotel after not seeing very many at all for quite a while. We wore masks, dumped our stuff in the room, and passed out.
Explore the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states to see the 1,300-mile route traveled by Mormons who fled Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846-1847
The story of the Mormon Trail is rooted in the beginnings of a unique American religion. In 1827, 21-year-old Joseph Smith announced that he had unearthed a set of golden plates, inscribed with the tenants of God’s true church. Smith said that he had been directed to the plates by an angel named Moroni, who also had given him divine tools for translating the ancient inscriptions into English. Smith used these to produce new Scripture called the Book of Mormon. In 1830, in western New York, he organized a legal entity that would become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His followers, who regarded Smith as a prophet, became known as Mormons.
Important differences between mainstream Christianity and Mormon doctrine quickly emerged, but it was primarily hostilities over land, business, and politics that caused Smith repeatedly to move church headquarters. Driven out of Missouri in 1838, the Mormons finally settled along a bend of the Mississippi River in Illinois. There they established a community they called Nauvoo, a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful place.” It was at Nauvoo that Smith cautiously began introducing the Old Testament practice of “plural marriage,” or polygamy, among select church leaders.
Thousands of converts flocked to Nauvoo, soon making it the largest town in Illinois. Neighbors initially welcomed the orderly, industrious settlers despite their religious differences. But relations gradually soured, with complaints centering on Mormons’ clannish business practices, accusations of theft, their electoral sway, and Smith’s political aspirations. Meanwhile, dissent emerged within the church as rumors leaked of secret plural marriages. After an opposition newspaper publicly accused the prophet and other leaders of polygamy, Nauvoo’s city council and Smith declared the paper a public nuisance and Smith ordered destruction of its press. For that he and others were arrested and jailed at Carthage, Illinois. On June 27, 1844, a mob broke into the jail and murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Other vigilantes attacked Mormon farms around Nauvoo in an attempt to expel them.
Brigham Young stepped up as Smith’s successor and began planning an orderly, spring 1846 evacuation of some 15,000 faithful to the Great Basin, Mexican-held territory beyond the Rocky Mountains. However, as anti-Mormon violence heated, Young decided to organize a vanguard of church leaders to depart in late winter, hoping that would pacify the vigilantes until the main body of Mormons could start west in April. On February 4, 1846, the first wagons ferried across the Mississippi to Iowa. This group halted after five miles and set up camp at Sugar Creek for a lengthy wait as Young and his associates concluded business at Nauvoo. Meanwhile others, anxious not to be left behind, drifted over to join the Sugar Creek camp. Young’s vanguard company unexpectedly swelled from his intended 1,800 emigrants to around 3,000—many without their own wagons and provisions.
The weather was mild and sunny last week. While others were COVID pool partying in the Ozarks, StevetheBikeGuy and I selected a Moderate hiking trail at Ha Ha Tonka State Park and headed for the hills and woods.
Ha Ha Tonka, meaning laughing waters, has many trails, some which wind around castle ruins. Other trails go through the forest and rock formations.
Trails vary in difficulty from Easy to Moderate, to Rugged.
We chose the Spring Trail, a 1.5/3.0 mile loop which goes through forests with varying shade, through sunny, rocky terrain and back again.
Some areas have good lookouts far below on the forest floor. Other sections had some stairs to aid in steep climbing portions of the trail.
Take a meandering route through Missouri and into northern Arkansas to enjoy scenery that changes with the seasons. The Ozark Mountains span four states and consist of a plateau that covers 50,000 square miles. There’s plenty of hiking, rivers, lakes, and caves interspaced amongst the wilderness areas, making for a great road trip adventure with both scenery and historical destinations.
Years ago, I traveled this route as part of an assignment that involved researching why people live in particular areas. Life in these parts is slow-paced, almost reflective. What I found during the road trip was that a good many people choose to live in this area for the lifestyle; they value the slower pace and the access to nature and its outdoor activities. It’s a pleasant drive through a peaceful and scenic area when you follow the rolling hills from Osage Beach, Missouri, to Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Just released last month!
Although a bit west of what is considered the tradition Midwest, Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.
The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch. The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.
The park’s seven maintained hiking trails, some paved, vary in length from less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to nearly 3 miles. These named trails are Painted Desert Rim, Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, Long Logs, and Agate House. Hikers and backpackers may also visit the park’s wilderness areas.
Panorama of shortgrass prairie near Dry Wash in the southern section of the park.
Some of the larger animals roaming the grasslands include pronghorns, black-tailed jackrabbits (hares), Gunnison’s prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Bobcats and bullsnakes hunt smaller animals, such as deer mice and white-tailed antelope squirrels in the park’s riparian zones. More than 16 kinds of lizards and snakes live in various habitats in the park.
Here in Michigan when the weather is nice, everyone is outside enjoying it. Whether it be hiking, biking, swimming, fishing or what other activity, Michiganders love to capitalize on favorable weather. Here are 5 hikes in Michigan that you shouldn’t miss out on in 2020!
5 Hikes in Michigan for 2020
- Empire Bluff Trail – Sleeping Bear Dunes
- Chapel Beach – Pictured Rocks Lakeshore
- Lake of the Clouds – Ontonagon Area
- Hogback Mountain – Marquette
- Arch Rock – Mackinac Island
Empire Bluff Trail – Sleeping Bear Dunes
Welcome to Sleeping Bear Dunes! One of Michigan’s premiere destinations. The Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of the best you will find and is incredibly rewarding. Not only are the views outstanding, this hike is very easy! Clocking in at only 1.5 miles round trip, this hike is worth its weight in gold. This trail will get very busy during summer season so plan wisely.
Chapel Beach Loop – Pictured Rocks Lakeshore
Apart of the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, is the Chapel Beach Loop. What makes the Chapel Beach Loop such a great trail is the scenery on the trail and the end destination. The trail has an abundance of plant variety as well as easy changing terrain. As scenic as the hike is in, the cream rises to the top at the end. Chapel Beach is a pristine beach complemented by a lovely chapel beach lookout point. You won’t be dissapointed.