long x trail emerald green landscape

The Long X trail follows the Little Missouri River.

It’s green out here

After our afternoon  3-mile hike on Long X Trail, we headed across the river to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park north unit. Evening comes and it’s time to look for awesome sights.

(Here are three recommendations.)

The region is emerald green. That means now is the time to get out to the Badlands. Head to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Or if you prefer, go to the Little Missouri State Park and be reacquainted with North Dakota’s famous green grassland.

Theodore Roosevelt Park north unit

We found picnic grounds open on the evening we were there. and more than one family was using the area for some family exercise.

Since our legs were tired of the short trek on the easy Long X trail, we settled in to the outdoor absorption of rest, sitting and eating. We decided maybe to take a drive through the park to see

On the way in, we spotted cattle down in the sage brush. The Longhorn steers are one of the singular attractions in the north unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just like wild horses are a singular attraction in the south unit.

Longhorns badlands sage brudh

Along the bottoms of the north unit of the TRNP longhorns like to graze and nap until evening when they go to the river to drink.

The Long X Trail started in Texas and ended here where the Park sits today.  That’s why the longhorns can prompt romantic story-book thoughts of a imaginary cattle drive — 4,000 of these scrawny critters following the greening grass north each spring.


The sun got low, the shadows got long and the landscape warmed up with the golden rays of the late day sun.  We made a short drive to the end of the scenic drive, to Oxbow Overlook at the north unit, turned around; and with the sun at our back we headed back to where we came.

A small herd of bison distracted us and while we were driving by, one big horn sheep popped up over the hill to watch us drive through his pasture.

Ram Tough

It seemed to me that where there is one, there could be more. So, after the ram disappeared, I hiked up the little hill to see where he went. Down below were nine rams and a handful of bison.

For the next hour, I paced myself to stay abreast of the rams as they grazed up the hill.  Three stayed down, six popped up over the top. 

One old guy stayed between me and the others.  So, I respected his ownership and stayed the customary 75 feet away.  I don’t have a long telephoto lens so, I try to get as close to my subject as is reasonably possible.

It seemed to me, as I was shooting, that this kind of late-day moment is exactly what sells North Dakota.  It’s what sells the Badlands.  People who are fed up with the cauldron of boiling social stew are attracted to this kind of non-civilized peace. The connection with the environment at the moment is both energizing and restive.

After we left the herd of bighorn rams, we paused a moment to visually connect with a small herd of bison walking along the roadway.

Now, it’s your turn to get into the green

If you get the chance to head to the Badlands this spring to gobble up green vistas, don’t rush away just because the sun is getting low.

The sweet, gratifying dessert of a Badlands golden hour. It always comes at the end of your adventure.

Oh, and the Long X Trail? Hike? We’ll tell you about that. After all, it is part of our 10 places that we recommend.

If you get a shot you like, please share it with us on our Facebook Page.  It’s right here. 

We’re working on giving you ideas for the Badlands that will let you explore without having to crash with other people. Social distancing you know.  Coming up, we’ll tell you about the Long X Trail. Just subscribe to this page to get a notice in your email inbox and you’ll be the first to know when each post is freshly minted.

Start  your plans now to sample the Badlands in it’s spring glory. Click here for ideas. 

Beautiful Badlands Ad Mykuhls