Locations: White Butte, North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
|Wildlife everywhere in North Dakota!|
I've had some great times in a state that is not well known for tourism! North Dakota has had some of the best wildlife viewing I've seen this trip. Not kidding! I've seen three herds of bison, four prairie dog towns, two herds of wild horses, and a herd of... ticks... on my leg. Oi, I pulled off 10 ticks yesterday... BLEACH!!!
Nevertheless, I've highly enjoyed North Dakota! The day started off with a hike up White Butte, the state highpoint. This was another interesting mountain to find. Its actually private property, for one. I obtained permission from the nice owners to climb the mountain. All they require is a small fee. It was actually somewhat of a mountains too, as opposed to a slightly raised hill on a sea of flat land.
|White Butte, the highpoint of North Dakota|
So I drove through Slope County, North Dakota. Its the least populated county in the 49th least populated state. Also, its almost the same exact size of Rhode Island. The Butte is near the county seat of Amidon, North Dakota and is the second smallest county seat in the country. (This will be useful knowledge on Jeopardy some day)
Take home message, I passed the "middle of nowhere" 200 miles ago and I'm in a place that has less people than the Moon. The High Point is 5 miles south of Amidon and is a nice little mountain. I parked at the kind folk's mailbox and made the customary donation. I decided NOT to try and drive the road to the base as it is a very rough jeep road.
I enjoyed this hike quite a bit! It wanders through a lot of cow pastures and eventually leads to the "parking lot" Once you hit the actual trail, it wanders through the little badlands of the mountain and up to the "summit". Word to the wise, bring a hiking pole for the rattlesnakes and wear long pants; its tick country.
|Upon the precarious summit|
I loved the summit views. White Butte rises about 500ft above the surrounding plains so the view is phenomenal. This part of North Dakota has many of these buttes making the landscape look almost lunar. I did spend a good half an hour enjoying this vista. The summit register is funny too because its signed by a bunch of crazy folks like me trying to climb the 50-state highpoints. I'm not the only lunatic out there. For proof, please visit southwestern North Dakota.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park was only 40 miles away so I headed off! This national park is one of the least visited parks in the country. It is far more interesting than you might think. First of all, it preserves the place where Theodore Roosevelt, an American President, became the wild man that he was. He was a cowboy, a wrangler, and a deputy out in these badlands. He credited North Dakota as the main reason he ended up becoming president. This is, in many ways, where the concept of a "national park" got its beginings. The president believed that places, such as these, should be preserved for all time. Thank you, President Roosevelt!
|Standing TALLER than my car|
|Prairie dogs, aka the Rats of the Midwest|
|Bison on the move|
That's all I can really say about Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Thank God there's still places in the country where the wildlife is still wild. I could go on and on about how beautiful this was. I do hope that you find the time to make it out to this wilderness that is western North Dakota.