Hwy 10, West of Mandan

Hwy 10, West of Mandan

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – South Unit Loop

With my planned brevets in September and October derailed by work commitments and ridiculously priced lodging, I’ve opted to sneak in some rides with a local flair, beginning with North Dakota’s own Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The park includes north and south units, and while separated by approximately 70 miles, they both feature some amazing geology, flora, and fauna.

I’ve ridden the south unit loop nearly every year since moving to North Dakota in 1999.  The loop is a reasonable distance (36 miles) and offers short, but challenging climbs.  The wind is always a factor, frequently compounding the challenge of the variable terrain.  Wildlife (particularly bison and wild horse) are often found near the road, so one must be constantly on the lookout for their presence.

Today I rode the south unit loop under overcast skies, occasional showers, but light and respectful automobile traffic.  Three bison herds near/on the road made for some anxious moments between Wind Canyon and Boicourt Overlook, so I declined riding a second time in lieu of a short out-and-back to the Wind Canyon pullout.  It was just as well, for as I descended into the town of Medora at the end of the ride the skies opened up with pouring rain.

Below are a few photos from the ride.  The beautiful surroundings and light traffic made for another excellent day on the bike.  In fact, this ride never disappoints.

 (Entrance to the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park)

 (Nice hill near the park entrance to warm up the legs and lungs)

 (Passing over I-94)

 (Prairie dogs galore at the top of the bluff)

 (Cottonwood Campground along the Little Missouri River)

 (Climb up to Wind Canyon)

 (View of the Little Missouri River from the Wind Canyon pullout)

 (Lots of calves in this bison heard)

 (Glad this one is at a distance from the road)

 (Another bison heard in valley below)

 (At the Boicourt Overlook, facing southwest)

 (Evidence of geologic erosion)

 (Yet more evidence, resulting in a single lane road)

 (Where there’s horse manure…)

 (…there must be a horse!)

 (New trail signs for hikers)

 (Geological strata I)

 (Geological strata II)

 (Geological strata III)

 (Descending to Cottonwood Campground)

 (Bison herd too close for comfort)

 (Second visit to Wind Canyon)

 (Prairie dogs near their mounds)

 (What an amazing ‘mound collage’ created by the prairie dogs!)

(Medora overlook)

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