On our second day of our North Dakota adventure, we went to two very different places, so each warrants its own blog post! Let’s begin with the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. As I mentioned in a previous post, Andrew and I had visited this unit two summers ago, during which we drove the 36 mile loop (which was under construction) and hiked the Coal Vein Trail. This time around we drove the 36 mile newly refurbished road, hiked three trails, and saw Teddy Roosevelt’s cabin! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and get back to the beginning of the day!
Our first stop while visiting the South Unit brought us to the visitor center. We’d enjoyed an extra hour of sleep the night before due to the Southwestern corner of North Dakota being in Mountain time. Just outside the visitor center is Teddy Roosevelt’s Maltese Cabin. This was the cabin he lived in just north of the unit during his time in North Dakota. It was really neat because some of his belongings are still inside, and the brand on the outside was placed there by Teddy Roosevelt himself.
Following that we began our journey along the 36 mile loop. The first thing we encountered was a prairie dog town, followed by a herd of bison, with lots of baby bison! Shortly after that we made it to our first hiking destination for the day, Wind Canyon. We hiked the short loop…and then did a little off trail hiking of our own to sneak just a little further into the canyon. I will say Andrew was braver than I was!
After that hike, we continued on our way down the road, stopping at several overlooks along the way, before arriving at our second hike, Buck Hill. Buck Hill is the highest point you can access from the road in the South Unit. From the top we could look out and see the Painted Canyon visitor center from a distance, a location we would visit later in the morning. After hiking Buck Hill, we continued just a short distance further to hike the Ridgeline Nature Trail. While hiking that trail we got to see a horned lizard which was pretty neat!
Once we finished the loop road, we drove out of the park and waved good-bye to Medora before visiting the Painted Canyon Visitor Center. While not directly connected to the South Unit, Painted Canyon is still part of Theodore Roosevelt NP. While the views from the top are stunning, I highly suggested hiking the loop trail located to the west of the visitor center. The trail takes you down into the canyon and back up. We saw a snake while on the trail…thankfully not a Rattler, but still creeped me out! I can handle most animals but snakes are one that I just can’t! After a few more pictures at the top, we got back in the car to grab lunch in Dickinson before continuing to our next destination for the day!