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National Parks - 2010 Trip - Day 4

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Start Location: Williston, ND
Ending Location: Medora, ND
Miles Today: 260
Trip Miles: 1378
States Visited: 4
Provinces Visited: 0
Low Temp: 49.8° F
High Temp:71.7° F
Min Elevation: 1158'
Max Elevation: 2935'

Route Map:


It looks like we left Williston a little early, if we had waited a few days we could have attended a big Tea Party Rally - probably just as well.  

So we lucked out - sort of.  It seems that we had bad information last night.  A guy told us that the road towards the park was being repaired and there was a long stretch of dirt and gravel before the park.  Not seeing any alternatives, we left anyway.  There was construction on and off along the way to the park but no dirt or gravel roads.  However, when we got to the Visitor Center of the North Unit, they told us that the road to the South Unit was the one under construction and it would be virtually impassable for a motorcycle.  They were able to provide us a detour route but it added about 75 miles to the trip.

The North Unit is the smaller unit and there was a 14 mile out and back road through the park that, while not as amazing as some of the parks we have visited, was still well worth the ride.  We still find it amazing that you can be riding through fairly normal scenery and then turn into a park and find a whole different world.  Each one seems to have its own personality.  This park is important because it was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt who is probably our country's most influential conservationist.

The South Unit is quite a bit larger and can be accessed mainly by a 36 mile loop route through the park.  It was a nice drive and we enjoyed it that much more because it was finally dry.

The ride was cold all day with temperatures that ranged from 50 - 55 degrees all day.  It also rained on and off most of the morning.  It was dry in the afternoon but got very windy which was somewhat of a different challenge.  All in all it could have been worse. We met a couple at the motel tonight that had come from Minot and they had hard rain the whole day.

The roads have been great - good condition and very little traffic.  In fact, on the detour, we went 64 miles without seeing another vehicle traveling in the same direction we were and only a handfull going in the opposite direction.  This was route 16 which was a gently winding road through rolling hills and grasslands - mostly in the Little Missouri National Grassland.  We probably never would have found this road otherwise so some things just seem to work out.

The South Unit Visitor Center is located in the town of Medora, ND and that's where we're staying tonight.  It's a tourist town that reminds us of Winthrop - wooden walkways and all.  We even ate at the Cowboy Cafe.

So tomorrow it's off to South Dakota and the Badlands.