Take the gift of a warm Sunday afternoon and get outdoors for several rewards. We did.

Beginning the hike in south unit, from rest stop west of Buck Hill. 11-29-2021

We began our hike just off the park road, west of Buck Hill in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

It was the last weekend in November and temperatures were in the 50s.  Impulsive, spontaneous, we headed to the south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

Not many people visit the park outside of peak tourist season, so we pretty much had the park to ourselves.

A drive through, looking for photo opportunities took us to the end of the road where the washout has broken the scenic drive loop.

Gaining elevation at beginning of hike from rest stop west of Buck Hill, south unit TRNP, 11-28-2021

Our path gained elevation through rough, pebble-strewn terrain.


Along the way we drove parallel to a long ridge, west of Buck Hill.  We knew if we wanted to get up above the hills on a quick hike to view the landscape and possibly a good sunset, we’d have to go up.


1st Reward, a Heart-pounding Workout

Following a maze of wildlife trails, we zig zagged up the hill, through the trees, and over the rocks. That was our first reward, the good workout, the speedy heart rate, and the satisfaction of a good exercise.

And we had the area to ourselves. Remote seclusion.

hiking up through on hike in south unit TRNP west of Buck Hill. 11-28-2021

The second phase of our hike was as rough as the first, but steep and that meant a fast ascent!

making way through thick brush and cedars following game trails. hike west of Buck Hill South Unit TRNP. 11-28-2021

This was elk country, no doubt about it.  We followed game trails through the thick cedars.


2nd Reward, the View

Our second reward was at the top — the huge expanse to the north, a low-lying area called the donut.  It’s a low-lying area circled by hills all around.  To get in or out, you have to do some hill hiking or climbing.


The sun sets early in the Badlands, about 4:00 mountain time.

golden hour looking north west/west from summit of ridge west of Buck Hill, south above rest area TRNP south unit. 11-28-2021

The Golden Hour began as we reached the summit of the ridge and the badlands began to glow.


So we calculated the time we had to hike, then set a timer to alert us when the time was half gone. It was time to return to the Jeep.

our destination, top of ridge. looking northwest Mike doing Facebook Live. South Unit TRNP nearing sunset 11-28-2021

We reached our destination as the sun poked through the clouds and the Golden Hour began.  Mike shared the moment by recording a Facebook Live from the summit.

top of ridge, destination reached. looking south over Coal Vein Trailhead parking area South Unit. TRNP 11-28-2021

From the top of the ridge, we looked down the hill to the parking area for the Coal Vein Trailhead. Sunset colors just began.

Marker from US Bureau of Public Roads (which was functional 1893-1970) near the top of the ridge we hiked. west of Buck Hill, south above rest area, South Unit TRNP. 11-28-2021

On the way down, we spotted this marker from US Bureau of Public Roads, a road agency from 1893-1970.

vertical descending from the ridge. looking north heading back to rest area. west of Buck Hill. South Unit TRNP 11-28-2021

When we hiked down, the skies ahead increased their beautiful colors.

Looking back to the top of the ridge we just hiked. West of Buck Hill, south above rest area. South Unit TRNP. 11-28-2021

We looked back to the far ridge from which we had just returned and congratulated ourselves for a safe and successful venture. To welcome us to the bottom, at least 3 packs of coyotes serenaded us with their echoing songs.


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3rd Reward, Bison

Bison stretching for food. south unit TRNP 11-28-2021

This bison seemed a bit comical as he stretched his neck to each the perfect grass on which to much.   Bison roamed much of the park roadsides during our visit.

We unpacked, unloaded, and unwound at the Jeep, then headed out of the park. On the way, a few bison were also using the road, which is always a  humorous moment.


4th Reward, a Stunning sunset

The day had been mostly could, but it appeared a break in the clouds would let the setting sun give us a final canvas of God’s colors. Indeed! Before we left the park, we were treated to a fiery sunset!  We shot a few stills and a video or two.

Sunset as we leave the South Unit after hike to ridge west of Buck Hill. TRNP. 11-28-2021

The western sky came alive in a vibrant, psychedelic way as we left the park!


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Last Reward, Food

Pancakes and sausage. Country Kitchen, Dickinson. after south unit hike. 11-28-2021

Pancakes and sausage at the Country Kitchen in Dickinson, North Dakota.

Food always tastes better when you’ve worked up a good appetite.  Normally, a hot beef sandwich is one of the best things to devour at the end of the hike. We headed to Dickinson and the Country Kitchen. At the last moment, we both settled on something to satisfy our sweet tooth. Pancakes and link sausage, waffle and patty sausage. Lots of carbs, sweetness and some protein.

Have you ever been to the oldest saloon in Medora!   Meet Your Friends at the Little Missouri Saloon!

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Don’t forget to visit the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, near Watford City.  It’s character is much different than the south unit, and it is home to Big Horn Sheep and Longhorn Cattle!  

Watford City is the Hub of all things fun in Western North Dakota!

Watford City, North Dakota The hub of attractions and things to do in Western North Dakota.

Watford City, North Dakota The hub of attractions and things to do in Western North Dakota.