Today we did the one hour drive north to explore the 14 mile long scenic drive in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
We hit almost all of the viewpoint and did one short hike. It was blazing hot today with a high around 34C and very little wind. Even the staff at the visitor’s center didn’t recommend doing anything very long.
Our first “longer than a glance” stop was at the Cannonball Concretions. There are huge (up to around 3 feet in diameter) very round balls of rock. Some are embedded in the cliffs. Others are out in the open on the ground. The sign said that they really do not understand how they form.
This is the view from the parking lot. There are some in the cliff and one on the ground to the left.
We headed up the right cliff face first.
Some cubbyholes to hide in.
Then a little valley covered in the cannonballs, some a bit smashed up.
Lots of interesting patterns on the walls of the valley.
A mom kept calling to her son not to go higher but do they listen.
Heading back to check the other cliff face.
I was surprised at how busy it was.
The next stop was the Caprock Coulee Nature Trail. The whole Caprock Trail is a 3 mile loop that was not recommended today. We tried the 1.4 mile nature trail section that had marked posts and a guide book.
It was a wide open blazing hot walk.
Jennie made the mistake of leaning on this rock sticking out of the cliff. Hot enough to cook an egg.
About 2/3 of the way in Jennie decided she had had enough and retreated to the air conditioning in the car. I quickly continued on to the end.
At one spot they told you not to drink the water seeping from the ground.
No problem with that.
Shortly after Jennie left the rest of the trail was mostly in the trees. Still very hot but not as bad as being in the open.
And the end.
All the little white spot on the hills were chunks of petrified wood.
On the way back, out baking in the open.
The car is in sight. Ahhhh! Ice water and air conditioning.
The next stop was the River Bend Overlook with another CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built lookout.
The wide view from a bit higher.
Closer view east
While I was taking the photosphere I though I heard but did not feel my stomach rumble. Then I realized that there were some bison far below us and that I had heard one of them grunting. The sound sure carries a long way.
On the hill bottom right.
Looking east from here.
The photosphere from here.
Moving on we had our first bison jam of the day as this big guy slowly ambled down the middle of the road.
As we rounded the end of a wide canyon we saw the rare mountain bison on the far wall.
Not really! Just normal bison looking like they are on a steep cliff like mountain goats.
A roadside wall with some weird round structures on it.
Then at the end of the 14 mile road we checked out the Oxbow Bend Overlook. The river is the Little Missouri.
Not so wide.
The rivers path. A sign said that eventually the first bend will meet the end of the oxbow and leave an oxbow lake and no curve in the river.
And with me.
And the photosphere.
Then the one and a half hour drive back home. First back out the scenic road at the 25 mph speed limit.
At one point we were stopped a long time for some bison on the road. They just stood there and refused to move. They must have been there a long time because we had seen a car in front of us heading out rather a long way before we reached the end of the road. No one wanted to tempt fate and get close until a young girl in a Civic just drove up to them and they almost jumped out of the way. I am not sure if she knew what she was doing or just had dumb luck but we were all glad to be able to move again.
Back near the highway there were some darker clouds in the sky. Tonight after dark at the RV, they gave me a nice lightning show but I was too tired to try an get a picture.
We went out to dinner, as the thought of cooking in out roasting RV did not appeal to us. When we did get back it was 39C inside. On went the generator and both air conditioners. I guess it had to work a bit too hard because at one point the generator overheated and shutdown. I opened the access door to give it more air flow and restarted it after a cooldown. For noise control we have to shut it off by 8 pm. By then the inside temp was about 28C but outside had cooled off enough that we may not bake tonight.