Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota was our final stop with our visiting traveler, Alex. We spent a week camped at Cottonwood Campground, which is located in the south unit of the park. I don’t spend too much time talking about the campgrounds where we park, but this camp was fantastic for natural vistas and close proximity to wildlife. It isn’t unheard of to have a bison or two visit the camp in the evenings and mornings. The road construction offered the only drawback to the park, by causing 20-30 minute delays in and out of the campground and through the park.
While at TR national park, we participated in a variety different activities, including ranger led tours to petrified forest and Elkhorn Ranch (Theodore Roosevelt’s backcountry ranch). Also, we visited the scenic routes (in both South and North Units) to see a variety of wildlife. Prairie dogs and bison, otherwise known as tatanka, were plentiful throughout the park. We even had the opportunity to see coyotes and feral horses.
As our time winded down, we made one final outing to go hiking Alex. We woke him up fairly early (by his mental clock) and brought him out to the Jones Creek trail, which offers a 7.2 mile (roundtrip) view of the prairie and outlaying buttes. With such a beautiful day ahead of us, it was the perfect setting to appreciate nature’s tranquility.
When our week was over, we packed and hitched up. It was time to move out to Billings, MT, where we reluctantly put our nephew on a bus home.
Alex, thank you for spending the month with us. We enjoyed having you!
After leaving Custer, we spent the day in Rapid City, while Rosie had new tires and wheels installed, and had the Dometic Fridge controller board replaced (ugh). We then continued Northwest to the small town of Belle Fourche, where we were going to camp for two nights. Fortunately, we beat the rain and hail as we parked in our camping spot at Rocky Pointe Recreation Area. It was a good camping spot right near the reservoir. I wish we had few extra days to enjoy it.
Our purpose for camping here was the town’s closer proximity to Devil’s Tower, WY (1.5hours compared to 3.5 hours from Custer). Andrew and I have really wanted to visit there and have talked the site up to our nephew, Alex. We even prepared him by having him watch the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
This land formation is quite impressive with nothing else like it in the area. We spent a few hours doing to Tower Loop trail and viewing it from other areas in the park. It is definitely worth the trip to see it up close.
On the road again so soon. Next stop Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Two weeks of the Hatfield gang travel was spent in the Black Hills of South Dakota. From Badlands, we made a day trip in Rapid City for some minor Airstream maintenance and errands. From Rapid City, we drove the scenic route through Custer State Park and the Black Hills, before settling into our home at French Creek RV Park. This private park was conveniently located one block behind Downtown Custer, perfect for walking to stores, restaurants and parks…oh and I can’t forget, ice cream.
During our first week in the Black Hills, we visited Mt Rushmore, Custer State Park, and Deadwood. While each place had its’ unique beauty, the wildlife, including buffalo, pronghorn, and marmot, really captured the essence of America’s wild West. I have never felt more inspired to sing out the song “Home On the Range.” The cave systems of Wind Cave and Jewel Cave represent another unique feature to the area. While visiting Wind Cave, Andrew, Alex (our nephew) and I took the candlelight tour, which us the opportunity to climb, touch and explore part of the cave system by candlelight. Wind cave is most famous for its’ elaborate box work formations. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed on the tour we picked. While Jewel Cave is a close proximity to Wind Cave, the formations are much different.
The Crazy Horse Memorial Rodeo became another stop on our Black Hills adventure. Andrew and Alex really enjoyed the experience. Of course, Andrew photographed the event and Alex watched from the stands. On the other hand, I found it difficult to watch the cowboys chase and rope the calves and spent my time sitting in the back making origami cranes for my 1000 crane project.
While our time in Custer has come to an end, we have few more days in South Dakota before moving on to the next state, North Dakota.