It’s hard to believe but we are almost through North Dakota. First stop for day 3 was the Painted Canyon Visitor Center in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There is a great view of the canyon from the visitor center and the center itself has some very interesting displays. It is easy to miss because driving down the freeway you are focused on Medora where the entrance to the South Unit of the park is located. There is no entrance to the park from the Painted Canyon visitor center.
After a couple of pictures we were off again to Medora, North Dakota, just down the freeway from the visitor’s center. Medora has a charming feel as most buildings are in the old west theme without going over the top. We rode up and down the streets of town to get a feel for what Medora has to offer. We stopped at a coffee shop to get a little warm up. It was still cool in the morning and we weren’t quite out of the pocket of cold air that had plagued us the first couple of days of the trip. We were anxious to get to the park so we were off when the coffee was gone.
As we entered the park, the ranger who checked our park pass notified us of some construction on the main road. Unfortunately there would be a about an eight mile section of dirt road that we had to traverse both going into the park and coming back out. Soft dirt and motorcycles don’t mix well, but at least it wasn’t raining so we didn’t have to deal with mud. There was a lot of dust and we were packed in between a herd of giant campers and pickups that really made our ride “sporty”.
We thought the sporty part of the visit to the park was the road construction. Actually it was the herd of Buffalo that had taken over the circle road around the park that was a little unnerving. On a motorcycle you do feel a little vulnerable when a giant beast comes walking right at you and they don’t seem to be even a little bit concerned by the noise of the bike.
The herd basically stopped traffic for a while so we all just turned off the cars, pickups and motorcycles until they decided to move off the road. With all the motors off we could hear the Buffalo grunting. They are really loud. Check out this video of the dirt bath just off the road.
It was about 35 miles around the park and with occasional stops we had to get back on our schedule. A quick lunch in Medora at the Boots Bar and Grill and we were off to Forsyth, Montana, our destination for day 3.
Just west of the park the topography changes back to agriculture. So traversing North Dakota east to west we went full circle. From farm land to rolling hills and pasture to lakes and rivers. Throw in a little oil country and badlands and pretty soon on the far western part of the state you are back to the farms and ranches. What a beautiful state. I was really glad to see this up close and personal after flying high above North Dakota for so many years. Next road trip you take, make an effort to visit North Dakota. It is well worth the time to get there. Don’t forget to contact the North Dakota Tourism office for some great free advice too.