a person looking at a river

Theodore Roosevelt national park plus the Badlands

Jul 25th - Aug 7th (13 days)

Our first stop was the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We stayed at the only campground, Juniper. This park unit only gets around 700,000 visitors annually, so it was incredibly peaceful and quiet. Some days there were only two other campers around. It starkly contrasted the bustle of Banff we had just left behind. But despite the lack of people, we still had access to electricity and the internet so that Justin could work and we could watch TV easily.

The stillness was calming in its way. Although initially unsettling after all the time spent in crowded areas, it didn't take long for us to get used to the tranquil atmosphere and embrace it. The stars were particularly vivid in this area, and with very few lights around, they seemed right before us. We enjoyed sitting outside our RV after long days filled with hikes and exploring, appreciating the beauty of nature in its purest form.

a landscape with rocks and grassa rocky landscape with a valley belowa grassy valley with hills in the backgrounda landscape with hills and treesa man walking through a fielda sign on a posta person reading a booka dirt road leading to a grassy hill with a rocky hill in the backgrounda bench overlooking a lake
a grassy field with a blue sky with Konza Prairie Natural Area in the background
a dirt road leading up to a hill with trees and bushesa group of cows in a meadowa grassy field with hills in the background

We were excited to wake up one morning to find a herd of bison taking a shortcut through our campground. Melissa had been asking what that noise was, and when she took the dogs for a walk she was surprised to find them on the other side of the RV. She managed to get the dogs back inside in time, but their potty break was cut short.

After that, it seemed like they made an appearance every morning. They would hang around for a while, filling the campground with a strong bison smell. These bison were unlike any we'd seen before - they were very chatty and making strange rumbling growling noises. We figured that it must have been because of their size, as they sounded like something out of Jurassic Park! It was a really cool experience and something we won't forget in a hurry.

a buffalo walking in the grass
a table and chairs in a traina picnic table and bench in a meadowa group of buffalo in a fielda herd of buffalo in a field
a dog looking out a windowa person sitting on a couch with a laptop in front of a windowa man and a dog looking out a window

We explored the park in the afternoons and on Saturday morning. The north unit isn't the hugest place we've been to, but it's still beautiful and tranquil.

Before it started getting hot on Saturday, we hiked the Caprock Coulee Trail. It gave us a tour of all the different kinds of environments in the park, places with lots of trees, the grasslands, near the creeks that feed the river. It was nice and interesting. They gave us a little pamphlet and signs we could follow that showed all the different plans and things are looking at, which was nice. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we had the entire trail to ourselves during our 4-mile hike. We didn't come across many people, which made for a peaceful and enjoyable outing. That's the exact opposite experience from what we had at Banff and Yellowstone.

The only wildlife we ran into on the trail was a little snake. He had brown spots all over his back, so maybe he was poisonous. I was close enough that he could've bitten us, which was very scary, to say the least.

By the time we returned from our hike, we had looked at the weather forecast and realized that temperatures would be soaring around 100° for the rest of the week starting Sunday. We knew running both air conditioning units with our generator wouldn't be feasible, so we cut our camping trip short and headed to the closest commercial campground. That way, we could stay cool and avoid sweating through my work meetings.

a backyard with a trampoline and chairsa white truck parked on a roada white rv parked on a dirt roada cell phone with a cracked screen

Badlands National Park

It continued to be scorching hot, so we mostly explored the Badlands via truck. We went on a few short hikes and, at one point, took a gravel back road into the park by accident. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our giant tank of a vehicle could handle any path we encountered! We had no problem making our way through the park's winding roads, marveling at the landscape as we traveled. Even though we didn't get to spend too much time on foot, we still got to take in the Badlands' stunning beauty from our beloved truck's cooling comfort.

a landscape with a rocky area
a road with cars on it and a blue sky abovea river running through a canyona man standing on a rocka rocky landscape with a body of water in the foregrounda field with a rock formation in the distance
a structure on the side of a road
a landscape with a fence and treesa person standing on a roofa large rock with many holes in it
a rocky mountain with a blue sky
a person standing on a rocky hilla sign on a road
a large rock structure in a desert


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