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Theodore Roosevelt NP Times Two - Trip Report


Atravelynn

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Atravelynn

After our 3 days in TRNP, we headed to The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and stayed at Rodeway Inn in Hardin, Montana at $77.03 for one night with all taxes and discounts. There also was a Super 8 in Hardin. We had booked 3 nights at Rodeway in Hardin case of bad weather, delays, etc. One night, allowing an afternoon and full morning until noon was just right with no rush, in our opinion, to see the museums, exhibits and battlefield. It was easy to cancel at Rodeway Inn, no penalty.

 

Two pre-Little Bighorn prep suggestions:

 

1) Read the book

Custer’s Fall: the Native American side of the story. David Humphreys Miller, author and illustrator

 

2) Watch Ranger Steve Adelson on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2UzKRUgzJ0

 

We saw Ranger Steve Adelson in person. I felt like a groupie watching a rock star and we talked with him after his presentation. Our guess that he had been drill sergeant at one time was wrong. High school football coach.

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The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument - very moving experience

The standard advice is to stay at one of the many hotels/motels/etc near Custer State Park rather than about an hour away in Rapid City. We had other reasons to remain closer to Rapid City.

 

For sunrise/sunset shots in the Badlands, staying nearby, and not over an hour away in Rapid City would be a good idea.

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Badlands of South Dakota

 

Those really gorgeous, color-rich shots of the Badlands I am sure are taken at sunrise/sunset and shortly after a good rain. June is the wettest month.

https://www.nps.gov/badl/planyourvisit/weather.htm

 

In addition to the canyon-like walls in the distance, there were interesting flowers at my feet, along with a baby bunny seeking shade under the boardwalk.

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Tufted Evening Primrose – the blossoms become pink when they are dying. South Dakota Badlands Shade-seeking bunny

 

Just outside the badlands in the town of Phillip was The Ranch Store, located at 21190 SD-240. Can’t miss it with the giant pink prairie dog statue. Don’t know if it drooled in the rain or not, as we had sunny skies.

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Prairie Dog outside The Ranch Store The Ranch Store in the town of Phillip, outside the Badlands in South Dakota

 

The Ranch setup offered an opportunity to feed some resident prairie dogs that made their home in the fenced confines of the ranch. The prairie dogs can only be fed unsalted peanuts, $1/bag, sold on the premises. It was interesting how the very young prairie dogs had no interest in the peanuts, as they must have still been nursing for their primary nourishment.

 

There is a sign warning visitors to be wary of all the holes (and the sign also states common sense stuff like don’t put your hand or foot in the holes.) But we found we had to be super vigilant and constantly look out for the holes so as not to twist an ankle. One false move and there goes the ankle and the vacation. The owner was very gregarious and informative and the prairie dogs were numerous and entertaining. A fun stop.

 

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Me feeding the prairie dogs at The Ranch. There were quite a few birds around that were skilled at swooping in when the peanuts hit the ground.

The area surrounding the fenced ranch also offered good prairie dog photo ops.

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Outside the fenced area of The Ranch

I took Custer State Park’s 10:00 am Buffalo Safari Jeep tour that lasted about 2 hours. The first tour of the day departs at 8:00 am, which I think would be best wildlife-wise. There are afternoon tours too.

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Buffalo-people don’t accompany you on the trip, I’m just protecting their true identities by giving

them buffalo heads. Purpose of the photo is to see the type of vehicle used.

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Taken from Buffalo Safari Jeep outing

 

The 2-ish hour Buffalo Safari Jeep is like an African safari game drive because:

- our driver was very knowledgeable and anticipated the buffaloes’ movements to position us perfectly.

- the vehicles are open sided.

- we drove off the beaten path, in some cases on gravel roads open to the public, and in other cases on “access forbidden” roads.

- I saw more wildlife (buffalo, pronghorn, golden eagle flying off with a prairie dog in its talons) on this 2-hour trip than we did driving on our own for several hours.

- the focus is viewing buffalo and other animals, not just a ride in the park.

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Taken from Buffalo Safari Jeep outing

The Buffalo Jeep Safari differs from an African safari (that users of this site might be familiar with) in the following ways:

- the max # of participants is about 10 I believe, meaning each row could be 3 across with a participant seated in the middle.

- the buffalo are most comfortable with a moving vehicle, so the vehicle moves along very slowly near the herd; it does not stop when buffalo are close. We did stop for pronghorn, prairie dogs, etc. farther away. The motor is not turned off during stops.

- there is no lingering for long periods of time with birds, pronghorn, prairie dogs, etc. to get the best photographic angle or to optimal sun position.

- participants in the vehicle are not aware of holding still while others are photographing and may jostle around in the seats. I can especially imagine some bouncing with a vehicle containing excited youngsters. I had just 2 adults with me.

- The Jeep Safari is not a serious photography trip, though most people take photos and I was really happy with my shots.

 

There are quite a few of these jeeps and drivers, so I suppose it could be possible to book a private vehicle with the outing tailored to your request—at a cost. I’d check far in advance.

 

The following was seen on our own, driving through Custer State Park. None of our own buffalo photos could remotely compare with those from the Buffalo Jeep Safari:

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Pronghorn in Custer State Park, taken from our vehicle Burros in Custer State Park, taken from next to our vehicle

 

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Goslings and their parents taken on foot at Custer State Park

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It was not possible to sit and wait for interesting prairie dog poses on the Buffalo Jeep Safari.

This was taken from our vehicle in Custer State Park.

We look forward to making a fourth trip to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, and maybe some other nature destinations in the vicinity, but it will be on the other end of the season--in September.

 

The End

Edited by Atravelynn
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SafariChick

The bunny, the prairie dogs, and the goslings - adorable! And the buffalo "safari" sounds great! Too bad there are not actual buffalo-people guiding you, that would be amusing though they might not be able to see too well where the actual buffalo were. I remember polar-bear people from your polar-bear trip as well, I believe - you do see some interesting creatures on your trips! Thanks for another very interesting and informative report!

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Atravelynn

The bunny, the prairie dogs, and the goslings - adorable! And the buffalo "safari" sounds great! Too bad there are not actual buffalo-people guiding you, that would be amusing though they might not be able to see too well where the actual buffalo were. I remember polar-bear people from your polar-bear trip as well, I believe - you do see some interesting creatures on your trips! I was wondering if anybody would find a pattern. You have a good memory. Thanks for another very interesting and informative report! And thank YOU for checking it out.

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Really enjoyed this report @@Atravelynn ( a little late to the 2012 first part I confess!) with its landscapes, wildlife and history - am sitting here almost feeling what I imagine is the crisp clean fresh North Dakota air.

 

The cute prairie dogs remind me of the hyrax/dassies.

 

Now as to #18 - OK I get the grouse, the bluebird (2), Western Meadowlark(2), all beautiful birds I hasten to add, but Killdeer (very odd name for a bird which I assume is the one bottom left) and as for the Spotted Towhee - are you telling me that's the bird bottom right that is very attractive and appears to be in full song but doesn't appear to have a spot anywhere?

 

Please explain! Will a glass of Sauvignon Blanc help me to see the spots?

 

 

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Atravelynn

Really enjoyed this report @@Atravelynn ( a little late to the 2012 first part I confess!) It is fading in my memory as well! Thank you for dropping by--choose your year. with its landscapes, wildlife and history - am sitting here almost feeling what I imagine is the crisp clean fresh North Dakota air.

 

The cute prairie dogs remind me of the hyrax/dassies.

 

Now as to #18 - OK I get the grouse, the bluebird (2), Western Meadowlark(2), all beautiful birds I hasten to add, but Killdeer (very odd name for a bird which I assume is the one bottom left) and as for the Spotted Towhee - are you telling me that's the bird bottom right that is very attractive and appears to be in full song but doesn't appear to have a spot anywhere? The spots are subtle and my photo did not capture them in all their glory. Below is a visual explanation.

 

Please explain! Will a glass of Sauvignon Blanc help me to see the spots? I am not sure if it will produce spots, but I recommend it regardless.

 

 

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The spots are more like stripes or flecks on the side of the wings of the Spotted Towhee. The Eastern Towhee does not have them.

 

@@michael-ibk has been drawn to birdwatching in a big way lately and has been having such a big year with birds, it would not surprise me if he has photographic evidence of the Towhee species and their spots or lack thereof. These pics I marked up are just from google.

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