Sunday, July 23, 2023

“There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

What better way to be greeted upon  entering the park? 

Theodore Roosevelt made us aware of the need to protect our public lands. As  president, Roosevelt created 5 national parks, 18 monuments, 51 bird sanctuaries, began the National Wildlife Refuge system, and set aside more than 100 million acres for forests. In honor of his work in 1947 Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park was established, and in 1978 it was redesignated a national park.

There are three different sections to the park. We spent most of Saturday in the South Unit. Just outside of the town of Medora is the South Unit Entrance and Visitor Center. This unit also includes the Painted Canyon and Petrified Forest. The latter requires a 30 minute drive on private gravel roads. We decided to skip that.

The other two units include the North Unit and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. Both entrances are a good drive. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit is the site of Roosevelt's second ranch, but the buildings no longer exist. 

It was 91 on Saturday so we were at the south entrance by 7 a.m. Fortunately it was overcast with even a few sprinkles most of the morning because once the sun came out it got hot very quickly. By noon we had completed the scenic drive and several short hikes, as well as looked at the Painted Canyon.  Sunday is going to be a mere 98° so we are going to stay at the RV Park and take it easy. 

Interesting note: The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Foundation appears to own most everything including the town of Medora, most attractions in the town, employee housing, and even our campground. Their mission is to "preserve the experience of the badlands, the historic character of Medora and the values and heritage of Theodore Roosevelt and Harold Schafer." Mr. Schafer  owned Goldseal, maker of Mister Bubbles and other household products. Mr. Schafer's multi-million dollar gift started the foundation. Looks like they have a few other big donors as well. 

I enjoyed the unique rock formations here. The striated rock was varied and very interesting. A park we have never been to before, mainly because it is so far north. 

When we arrived Pat said, "Look at all those butterflies." Those are no butterflies, they're freakin' grasshoppers! Grasshoppers here are insane, there's millions of them, EVERYWHERE.  I don't care for grasshoppers at all, but ones that fly like butterflies and land on you are even worse. If they only ate the multitude of flies I might hate them less?

Looking down at our RV Park.

This was a small piece of the large Prarie Dog Town. Probably one of the largest we've seen. 

This little Prairie Dog was so cute. His borough was near the sidewalk. With a mouth full of grass he couldn't decide if he should make a run for his hole with me so close, or not. 

The Little Missouri River


Cars backed up to see more wild horses on the ridge.

Not sure if it was hot or not, but no admittance.

A lot of little ledges and flat topped formations in this park. 

We climbed to the top of Buck Hill (2,865 feet), the second highest spot in the park. We kept going on the trail a while but stopped, rather than descend into the canyon, where we got a glimpse of the Painted Canyon Visitor Center across the way, as well as Painted Canyon itself.

Usually a loop drive, but a section of road was under construction so we had to turn around here and drive back. 

This group, with the foal, we had seen when we entered the park.

Located behind the South Unit Visitor Center was Roosevelt's temporay home, Maltese Cross Cabin. He lived here while his Chimney Butte Ranch was built. Before returning here it was moved several times, one of which was to St. Louis for the World's Fair.

Cotton wood tree

Just outside the park was the site of the De Mores Packing Plant. The 85' chimney is the only remaining building of the Abattoire (slaughterhouse). The plant was built in 1883 to furnish refrigerated dressed beef from the ranges.

Where one of the slaughterhouses would have been prior to the plant burning in 1907.

Included in the South Unit is Painted Canyon. The Painted Canyon Visitor Center is about 6 miles west of Medora and is also a rest area for I-94. 

Lunch in Medora

The Marquise de Mores, of the packing plant fame, had St. Mary's Catholic Chuch built in 1884 in Medora. 

Air conditioned covered wagons are offered for camping.

Even horses on the ridge by our campground Sat. evening!

In four years and one month we completed our five-year goal. On Saturday Pat scratched off our final national park and I added our final state. Although we visited Isle Royale's Visitor Center in 2020 (due to Covid, boats were not traveling to the island) and scratched it off the map because techniquely the visitor's center is part of the park, we will revisit it next week and actually go to the island. To conclude this adventure we have, by our standards anyway, a pretty special trip planned for there. Can't wait!

Pat picked a unique lunch spot Friday, our last day in Rapid Springs. 50 unique burgers at Sickies Garage.

Pat said he did not have the BBQ sauce but everything else.

On the other hand, my burger probably should have been named "sickies." Don't get me wrong, it was good, but a little too much for my stomach to handle. I'm not a big fan of meat but the donut made the hamburger taste pretty good. Reminded me of the time our daughter-in-law, Toni, took us all on a "Parks and Donut adventure."  That was a fun, sugar filled day to remember!🍩 πŸ˜ƒ

Even the bathroom got in on the decor.

Are we done traveling? Definitely not!! We have tentative plans through ???. When we started out Pat said not to think of this adventure as a "vacation," but living. Well, I think I'm to the "living" part. Do I want a permanent place? Yes, but while we still search for that, and check a few more things off our bucket list, I think I would like to spend more time in one spot. Still travel, just not moving as frequently. We enjoy spending two or three months in one spot during the winter so maybe we could do that throughout the year? 
Where are the Piepers now? Medora, ND


  1. Those grasshoppers gross me out!

  2. So fun to hear of your goal being met- EARLY! You are an over achiever so I'm not surprised. Love the story about Teddy Roosevelt trip. We loved our time there. Ours was different due to traveling with a "boondocking only" dog...But it was beautiful. I don't remember the grasshoppers. I'm not a big meat eater either so I related to your burger story. We make "smashed " burgers at home. They are really skinny ( not much meat ) and then they are tasty. Blane just has 3 of them together! Good luck as you decide on an area to be a home base. I imagine after 4 years you are ready to settle in a little more. Your journey has been a joy to "ride" along with you on!!! Thanks for sharing it!!! Laurie

    1. Thanks Laurie! I like my burgers really thin so Pat ups his patties like Blane. I really miss having a dog, but then I remember the issues with having one and being full time. We've already added a Canada trip. Not sure when that will happen. Hope you are all well!