States Visited Today
On the morning of Thursday, July 9, 2020, we woke up quite early, 6 am, to get an early start. It almost didn’t work out as planned, but I will get to that later. I had a bowl of Raisin Bran for breakfast (I’m old!) and we were off on the road again.
The first planned stop of the day was the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The area where the park is now was where Theodore Roosevelt lived for a short time after his first wife and his mother died on the same day. He bought some land and established a ranch, living in nearby Medora (where the south unit visitor center is) while he built his house near the Little Missouri River. The park is not only land that the future president lived on but much of the land that he roamed while living in North Dakota. After becoming part of the park system the land went through a few name changes until it finally became a national park in 1978.
The south section is on an area of the North Dakota badlands. These badlands are much older than the South Dakota badlands. The hills are more worn down by erosion and most of the area is covered in vegetation of some kind. Because of this it may not be considered as pretty to see.
Upon entering the south section of the park, we took the scenic route road that was near the entrance. There were many prairie dog towns near the front entrance.
We also saw about three or four different small herds of bison along with three wild horses.
We then left the southern section of the park to take an extremely long gravel and dirt road to the Elkhorn Ranch portion of the park. The ranch was where Theodore Roosevelt actually lived in the mid-1880s during his time in North Dakota.
There was about a 3/4 mile hike to get to the site of the ranch from the parking area. It started off a bit muddy too. We noticed the tracks of a deer and her fawn, a cow, and maybe a coyote or dog along the way.
There were some information displays along the way, mostly in Roosevelt’s own words.
The area where the house was just had the original stones that were put in place for the base of the house, but there were also some markers showing where some of the other buildings might have been.
It was neat to have been in the same spot that Theodore Roosevelt lived in and a place that he had so many good memories of. This area even helped turn him into the conservationist that he later became during his presidency.
After a short walk back to the car and more gravel and dirt roads later we were at the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. This trading post dealt mostly in the trading of furs during the time period from 1829 to 1867. Many members of different native tribes traded mostly buffalo furs and robes for many different objects and food. The people who were stationed at the fort had about 200 different items on-hand to trade with. Negotiations and evaluation of the furs could go on for a month.
We did not get to spend much time there but our time was quite informative. When the fort was originally built it was at the banks of the Missouri River. The reconstruction of the fort has it at probably more than 100 yards away from the river now.
The fort is right on the border with Montana so we had to enter Montana to get to the fort in North Dakota and then go back into Montana to leave. We needed gas as well, but Google Maps took us to something that was definitely not a gas station, more like a possible gas refinery as there is a huge oil well industry in the Williston, North Dakota area. The closest gas station we found to us was back in Montana, so we went there real quick. We then decided to find some food at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Williston. We were probably the only people there wearing masks at the time so we were given a lot of weird looks. At this point in 2020, North Dakota had only seen one case of Covid-19 in the whole state, and that, as we found out later that night from our hotel front desk manager, was from someone who was from out of state. Our hotel for the night was in Beulah, North Dakota, and on our way there we passed many oil drills and some huge tanks that held the oil.