Find quiet in the Badlands.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get out here, get away from it all? You can. 

A band of feral horses graze peacefully on a warm December day in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora.

A band of feral horses grazes peacefully on a warm December day in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora.

I get tired of the noise. Especially the noise you can’t hear.  Don’t you? The noise of the season. The noise of culture clashes. The noise in my own hectic life.

So, whenever possible, I head to where I know it’s going to be quiet.  I have several locations where I go for that moment, and this time of year, one of the most accessible is the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  This weekend, mid-afternoon, we visited the park for a short hike of perhaps an hour or two.  We were visitors 19 and 20.  Imagine that, only 20 people all day exploring the 110 square miles of wilderness and wildlife of a national park.

A cold weather hike on a warm December day

The goal was a cold weather hike.  It really wasn’t that cold It was a warmer than normal December day, and weather conditions promised good light and good temperatures for exploring.  The landscape was ours to enjoy. 

Two feral colts, from the wild horse band of Nokota horses at the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Two feral colts, probably yearlings scamper up a hillside.

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

It was not a hard nor a long hike, just long enough to reward us with a glimpse of one band of feral horses in the park — including two colts.  As expected, they liked to run and scamper.  I was a bit disgusted with myself because I did not bring my video camera.

Brown grass and room to play for a couple of Nokota or wild horses at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Two nearly identical colts race up a hill at the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

A red feral horse runs across brown grass on a hillside in the Badlands

A red wild horse or feral horse runs up a winter pasture in the Badlands.

Click here to learn if these really are Sitting Bull’s horses.

Noisy town of prairie dogs

That first hike also led through a prairie dog town.  It’s been so dry that the prairie dogs have spread out in order to survive. When rains return, the colonies will shrink. 

A prairie dog sits at the entrance to his burrow.

Prairie dogs are loud and humorous when you walk through their town. They don’t shut up.

Click here to read more about prairie dogs.

Frankly, passing through their town was the noisiest moment of the afternoon. Their chirping and barking to alert other prairie dogs was funny.  

In the brown grass of winter, a prairie dogs sits.

A prairie dog sits at its burrow.





The sun sets very early, 4:00 mt

The sun was getting low and clouds were moving in, so we decided to find one more short trail to hike before dusk settled in on us.  The cool air (35 degrees) and the physical exertion up and down the hills pumped our endorphins so we were feeling good. Really good. 

Sunset over the Badlands.

A cold sunset on an abnormally warm December evening. The sun sets about 4:00 this time of year.

Our bodies produced enough dopamine and serotonin to quiet any noises in our heads or hearts.  It was great!  We knew we’d want to go back for another dose of quiet; so before we left, we scouted out our next set of hills, valleys, and ridges to explore.

A bison cross the highway in my rear view mirror.

He waited till we passed before he crossed the road behind us.

Once the sun disappeared, more wildlife appeared especially mule deer.  Even as we left the park and headed in to Medora, mulies were grazing in yards next to Christmas decorations.

A mule deer in the brush against a badlands hillside.

Late in the day, about 4:00 mountain time, the sun begins to go down and the mule deer start moving around.

Mule deer in front of Medora Christmas lights.

Mule deer in front of Medora Christmas lights.


It’s the absolute contrast to the noise of civilization, a part of North Dakota that many people don’t know about. Does that sound like something you could use in your world? 

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