Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teddy Roosevelt Nat'l Park

...Far surpassed our expectations. After leaving Devil's Tower, we began the drive to North Dakota to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It's safe to say that I was pleasantly surprised by North Dakota. I guess I expected that whole region to be similar to most of Wyoming... which is not my favorite. I blame that on too many winter snowstorms stuck on  I-80, but really, isn't one too many? Instead it was much more green and filled with National Grasslands.

There were huge boulders called cannonball concretions laying loose on the ground. The one below was the largest we saw. Concretions typically form when minerals precipitate from rock and glue sediment together different from the surrounding rock.

You can see how these form in the bedrock and then are released as the surrounding rock weathers. It's pretty cool. Even Jim thought so and he's not a geo-nerd so you know they must be interesting.

The valleys were so pretty. The amount of green in the park was really surprising.

There was a mellow charm to the area. This was my favorite lookout point.

This little bird was singing up a storm, perfectly happy perched atop the overlook.

It took a moment, but Jim found the source of the bird-song.

One of my favorite things about this park was the prevalence of wild horses, not to be confused with Wyld Stallyns. We were driving along the main park road when tourists on the roadside urged us with fervor to slow down. We figured it was going to be another bison crossing the road but instead it was a couple stallions in the midst of a dispute.

Evidently, the dark stallion from the picture below had approached and harassed the mares in the picture above. The light colored stallion came to the aid of the ladies and chased him off, kicking him when necessary. We just saw the end of the exchange, but it was rather heated. The white stallion stood and stared as the dark colored stallion walked away into the distance. He stood just like that until the other horse was far, far away and seemed to pose no additional threat. It is always amazing to see a glimpse of the social dynamics of wild animals. I wonder what the exchange was like for the photographer sitting in the middle of the herd.

We kept driving and found yet more horses. The guy below and a couple friends who we saw together on multiple occasions. I affectionately referred to them as the frat boys.

There were of course bison, who did occasionally cross the street and stop traffic. Seriously, I never want to see one of these guys angry unless I'm watching it on YouTube in the comfort of my own home.

Next to the horses, the other great animal discovery of this area was the prairie dogs. Having never been to this part of the country, they were a great surprise to me. The sheer numbers of them and the expanse of their colonies was quite surprising.  They were all over the place and really quite adorable to watch.

This park was not filled with a lot of bells and whistles, but had a pleasant serenity that I found quite refreshing. We enjoyed it immensely and feel it was our favorite (new) park of this trip.

North Dakota antelope count: 4

1 comment:

  1. Love it!! You were at my home. Were you in the north or south end of the park? I'm guessing south since you came from Wyoming. I used to live 15 miles from the north end of the park but have visited both. Also congratulations based on the last post.


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