Take a break from Cabin Fever

Okay, okay. It’s cold right now. We know that. We also know there are mid-winter breaks in the cold and it’s those breaks that allow us to break free of cabin fever. at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora. Watch for them those warm weather opportunities. Use them to beat cabin fever.

So, keep your eyes on the weather forecast and make your plans.

Here are three links to help compare weather forecasts. 

When you see a time on your calendar where you might want to get out to hike, bike, snowshoe or cross-country ski, start checking the weathercasts.  Check early, check often and you’ll see trends as the date gets closer and forecasters increase the accuracy of their prediction.  Then, you’ll be able to predict when is the best day, weather-wise, to explore the interior of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  If you have an accurate weather app, use “Medora” as the location.


Here’s how we did it.

We knew we didn’t have much time, so we discussed a destination that would give us access to hilltops, views, and vistas.  Just two days earlier, we’d made a quick jaunt into the interior of the park. It was so good, we had to do it again. We were fortunate, that it was a warm sunny day, and the critters were enjoying the sun, including a big beast on a flat spot up on a hill — basking and dozing.

bison buffalo sun sleeping

A dozing bison bull basks in the December sun on a west-facing hillside.

Along the way, we slowed for deer to cross the road. 

 It’s not unusual for a herd that has been spooked to run for cover instead of being out in the open.

We parked near the Badlands Spur trail, near the spot where the Talkington Trail and Paddock Trail cross the paved scenic road through the park.

Our favorite destinations are the ridges and hills.  We’d passed one or two that might have been worthy of an investment in energy and time.  We kept our eyes on the rising moon in the east and the setting sun in the west, trying to time our adventure to take advantage of both. We followed the ridge toward the west.


Scrub tree on hill at sunset

Life and Death

The first thing that made us stop was evidence of nature at its most natural state — a bison skeleton lay stripped bare.

bison skeleton 

Coyotes like to lay at a carcass and eat.  If it had been a mountain lion, the pieces would have been scattered a bit more.

It was late for starting a hike.  In the warmer seasons — spring through fall — 2:30 is a good time to start a hike.  In June you’d still have 6 or 7 hours of daylight.

 Not in December.  In winter, you have only until 4:00; sunset comes early. So you have to get out and back.  Getting back is important because it gets cold quickly.

We continue only a few minutes longer until the long shadows reminded us it was time to head back.  So, we started a loop to circle back to the Jeep. 

My Mistake

I zigged left when I should have zagged right. 


We followed a ridge on a longer route back that took us over a marked trail down below.

Consequently, we followed a longer route back to our starting point.  This route took us to a creek bed, the same one we had crossed when we started — just father down.


We climbed a bank near the creek, followed a deer trail and “voila” there we were back to the Jeep. 




This time of year, it only takes a few minutes for sunlight to disappear.  It can go from deep shadows to dusk very quickly as you can see in this short video:

YouTube player

By now it was getting dark. It was dusk, and the colors were gone from the landscape.  We drove carefully to get back to the park entrance. This time of day, deer and other animals move to their night spot. It’s okay to drive slowly — so we did.


sunset rosey color badlands landscape

Sunset’s rosy colors on the landscape last only a few minutes.

It wasn’t even 5:00 mountain time, yet here at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  So, when we got into Medora, we were the first dinner guests at the Little Missouri Saloon — our favorite off-season burger or steak joint in Medora.  By six o’clock that evening, we’d gotten good shots of wildlife, landscape, taken a good energizing hike, had a good meal, and were on our way home.  

Sheesh. Jonesing already for the next hike before cabin fever sets in.  Come on warm weather!  We wanna do it again.

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