It’s Getting More Colorful — Right now
This time in September is getting more colorful in the Badlands. It’s great for photos — especially a photo selfie.
Do you use a selfie stick? We had one, but it broke. A selfie stick is nice to have.
We’ve found these are six perfect spots for selfies.
And get this: these spots were around when your grandparents may have visited. Maybe they took a photo selfie or two at one of these historic places?
- The Chateau
- East Entrance (Old Highway 10)
- Painted Canyon Overlook (Old Highway 10)
- Fairview Lift Bridge
- Cartwright Tunnel
- Fort Union (Disclaimer: Only if your grandparents were running around in the 1980s when the Fort was rebuilt.)
1. The Chateau
It’s that famous building southwest of Medora. It’s been there since 1883. They say it was the d’Mores summer cabin. And it’s perfectly preserved. Nothing artificial here. It may match something your grandparents took back in the 70s.
Every time I first see it from the parking lot, I’m impressed with the huge solid exterior walls. Remember, this was built long before Black and Decker. That’s handwork I’m looking at when I approach the building.
Perfectly preserved, right down to the wall paper and the furniture inside.
Check which way the sun is from, put it on your shoulder with the chateau in the background and grab a selfie.
How to Get There
Duck out of Medora to the west; stop at the Little Missouri Bridge; turn left or south, up the hill. You’ll see the signs.
2. East Entrance (Old Highway 10)
Get this selfie, while you can, this fall, 2022. Once construction begins on those slippery miles of the scenic drive, the road will be closed before you reach the East Entrance.
The east entrance was used until 1968, and the stone building and fence sits just in the same place next to old highway 10. Lots of ideas here for selfies, both inside and out, near and far.
How Get There
Go into the south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Take the scenic sloop toward its farthest end. About 17 miles in, you’ll find the East Entrance Parking lot on the left, or east, side of the road.
Park, walk through the prairie dog town and head to that little stone building. Back in the 60s when your grandparents where here it looked something like this.
3. Painted Canyon Overlook (Old Highway 10)
You had to pay an entrance fee to get into the south unit and the East Entrance, but this stop is free. This is the visitor information center and rest stop just east of Medora. Your grandparents may have stopped here. Heck, your great-grandparents may have stopped at the gas station that was near here for 43 cent gas.
How to Get There
Get back on Interstate 94 and head east just a couple miles. The Painted Canyon Overlook is at Exit 32. You can explore the free trail, the loop that goes down the valley and back to the center.
Plenty of selfie opportunities there.
If your grandparents have a photo album of this region, they may have also taken a selfie at the Cedar Canyon Curio stop.
It’s not accessible anymore. It’s under the Interstate.
4. Fairview Lift Bridge
Here comes a two for one.
Highway 200 gets you to this two-for- one selfie location.
The Fairview lift bridge is conveniently located between the town of Fairview, on the ND MT border, and the Cartwright tunnel, near the town of Cartwright.
The lift bridge includes a long protected walkway from the parking lot to the tunnel. It’s possible that not only did your grandparents take a selfie here, they may have driven across the bridge. It was dual purpose–auto and railroad.
How to Get There
- Leave Watford City to the West on Highway 200, about 40 miles.
- Or leave Williston on Highway 2, head south on Highway 1804, south on Highway 58 toward Fairview, then east two miles to the bridge on Highway 200. It’s about 36 miles.
- Or from Sidney, head straight north for about 20 miles on Highway 200.
5. Cartwright Tunnel
The tunnel and the bridge are side by side, or end to end. The bridge led trains into the tunnel, cars went up over the top of the tunnel and rejoined the highway.
Your photo selfie inside the tunnel will be a keeper for your grand kids. Weird, huh. The tunnel is about a quarter mile long and very dark at the middle. So, be creative with your selfie. Best bet is to take your selfie at one end or the other.
6. Fort Union Trading Post
Just to be clear, this is the one on the North Dakota-Montana border, not the New Mexico military fort. This one was a trading post that goes back to the 1830s.
Lots of options here for selfies, both inside and outside. And it’s free.
Note: this one is only for your young grandparents. That’s because this was just a flat spot on the prairie next Mondak until it was rebuilt. The work started in 1985 and ended in 1989. John Matzko writes about it in Reconstructing Fort Union.
How to Get There
From Williston, ND, take U.S. 2 West to North Dakota 1804. Turn left on ND 1804. Travel approximately 20 miles, then turn right to stay on Highway 1804. In about two miles, the Fort Union entrance road will be on the left side of ND 1804.
From Sidney, MT, drive northeast on Montana 200 approximately 11 miles. At the traffic circle (roundabout), take the 3rd exit and head north on ND 58. After approximately 10 miles, turn left onto ND 1804. In approximately two miles, the Fort Union entrance road will be on the left side of ND 1804.
You’ve got all Fall to find your photo selfie spot
In the next 2 or 3 weeks, more yellow will appear down along the Little Missouri River. So, if that’s your color, you’ll get plenty of it. If you use a photo selfie stick you will have even more options.
We think autumn is a perfect season for exploring the North Dakota Badlands. The temperatures are good, and tourist population is low. You’ll get plenty of quiet time in the remote reaches of the Badlands.
Plus if you are taking selfies, there are fewer people around to “photobomb” your shot.
Feeling energized? Try scouting out these locations for your next photo shoot.
Tips and Hints — Drop us a line
If one of these 6 idea does not fit your opportunity, drop us a line and we can suggest other options if you want to discover hiking places nearby.