Friday, August 7, 2015

Vacation re-cap: North Dakota relaxing

It's August now, so I'll tell you about all the fun we had in July.  We've been going, going, going and making the most of the summer.  We headed out to the northern fringes of our favorite "West Dakota" region, this time visiting the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and touring the campgrounds of the Little Missouri National Grasslands.  Here's TRNP beauty and hanging out:

After taking in the main vista point, we thought we were going to spend a night in the back-country inside the park.  They wouldn't give us a back-country permit for the trail we wanted to follow (really odd...), so we took the recommended trail permit and headed out thinking we were being all chill and flexible.
 Here we were less than 2 hours later...
The trail was hard to follow, over grown, and full of ticks. I don't think this park sees many hikers. So we headed back to the driving tour and allowed our buddy to catch some zzz's.
 He woke up before we left the park, so we enjoyed one more short hike on the interpretive nature trail.

 You see we tucked our pant legs into our socks - this is to help prevent ticks from getting to our skin.  These light pants were a really good choice for Noah, as we could see the ticks very easily.
Is there anything more scenic than badlands and buffalo?

Camping spots - National Grasslands in style.

We started at CCC which is right next door to TRNP north unit.  When we bailed from our hiking trip, we went back for a second night at this location.  The big issue right now for campers in this region in North Dakota is that the Bakken Oil field is contaminating the wells. CCC water was deemed non-potable.  TRNP water was high in fluoride and not recommended for children under age 9.  Good thing we were planning for being in low water conditions and had lots of water with us.  We got some nice evening shade at this site and Brian biked the Maah Daah Hey a bit from camp.
 Our most unique camping location - Sather Lake.  We really liked the shelter, which all sites had available.  In spite of some sprinkles that night, we packed up a completely dry tent and gear. This lake area would be great for a picnic or fishing trip.  Sleeping there with the oil activity was a joke.  It's at the corner of 2 highways (county roads).  There were trucks going sporadically all night - and rumble strips approaching the junction and stop sign.  It was really hard to sleep there, but a beautiful little area.  
 Our third camping area is Burning Coal Vein.  We loved it! It was on the south edge of the National Grassland at the opposite end of the Maah Daah Hey trail from CCC.  It had a cool badlands feature to hike around at and bike trail access.  The drive into it was absolutely breath-taking beautiful.  Badlands, grasslands, and some evergreen trees in just the right portions.  I want to buy a ranch in that area and never leave.
There was another, newer campground halfway between BCV and Medora - Coal Creek.  We stopped there briefly at the end of our trip. It had potential to become a favorite.  It's on our list to stay at next time we go out there. I forgot to mention that BCV and Coal Creek are far enough from the oil activity that they have clean water!

I have a ton more pictures of our tourist activities and the scenery, but this is getting plenty long for now!

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