After leaving Glacier, we started heading East. Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota was our next main stop but we had one more National Park to hit before we got there. Theodore Roosevelt is a relatively unknown National Park in North Dakota. It actually goes right along the interstate and added no driving time to our route.
We snagged a walk-up campsite for two nights and set up at a sweet spot in the Cottonwood Campground right along the river. It was our best campsite of the whole summer! Our last morning at camp, we watched a bison walk across the river. It was the scene Kelly had been waiting for all summer. Campers gathered at our site, which had the best view of the scene, and we enjoyed a morning making friends with everyone.
After we set up camp, we went for a drive to get a sense of the park and to go for a short hike. We settled on a trail called Round Up which starts along the road circling the park. We hiked out through thick THICK grass and made our way towards the Badlands region of the park. The grass thinned (after we plucked 8 ticks off our legs) and we enjoyed a stroll with the prairie scenery. We reloaded with deet bug spray before heading through the grass on the way back and carefully checked ourselves for unwanted hitchhikers (we found no takers on the return trip). The hike was easy and other than the thick grass, enjoyable. I’m not sure it’s one we’ll do again but it was a great easy taste of the park for a late afternoon stroll.
We drove around the park again, stopping to walk on short trails and to photograph the wild horses that roam the park. After a quick dinner of pasta & parmesan cheese, we headed back to our campsite, crawling into the tent just before a thunderstorm came rolling through. It was a windy and loud night but we stayed perfectly warm with our Rumpl down blanket.
Total Distance: 4.5 miles, minimal elevation gain.
Pro Tip: The ticks in the prairie are no joke. We sprayed with deet multiple times but still had to be super vigilant. For our second hike, we wisened up and wore pants, despite hiking on a hot day. We recommend pants for every hike in every season here.