Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, ND

ND 200, 83, Washburn, Hensler, Cross Ranch SP, 28 ST SW, 25, 1860, Manden, Heart River, Bismarck

Traveling from Garrison Dam and went down the west side of the Missouri River to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Pretty country but lots of haze from the fires in Wyoming and other western states.

We arrived at the park to find it along the Heart River with lots of trees and shade. It has a great comfort station. The park also has 95 campsites, two sleeping tepees, and picnic shelters. Hiking, fishing, and playgrounds. Good over the air TV. On Saturday the park put on a Hot Dog and Sweet Corn Feed. Then in the evening offered free Root beer Floats. Had cool train rides for kids in a home made barrel cars pulled with a ORV. There is a very nice free Museum that features Indian and Military items. There is a very cool Indian village that has tours or you can walk on your own through the encampment. Lots of trails for biking. There is a Trolley that runs from the park to the town of Mendon.

North Dakota has gotten into the three digits heat this week so we took advantage of our Host Pass and stayed inside for over  four days waiting out the weather. Once it cooled back off we took a day trip to Bismarck to ride the river trail. Bismarck has a great trail system thou and around their town.

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Lake Sakakawea State Park, ND

ND 22, Hwy 8, Halliday, Hwy 200, Pick City

We have left Little Missouri State Park and moved on to Lake Sakakawea State Park. Working for North Dakoda Parks we have a seven day gift to any of their parks. Sakakawea is wide open and on the lake, with Electric and Water sites, Pull thru and lots of lake front. They have paved park roads so we can get back on our bikes again.

The park’s hiking trails include the western terminus of the 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail which, when completed, will cross the northern tier of the continental United States from its eastern terminus at Crown Point in upstate New York. The park offers swimming, fishing and boating. Lake access is available at two boat ramps and a full-service marina. For overnight stays, there are two camping cabins and 249 campsites, both primitive and modern. The park is very clean, and family friendly. The marina store even offers hand dipped ice cream. Like I said, this is an awesome park.

Little Missouri State Park, ND

Little Missouri River Valley, Killdeer Mountains, Oil and Gas Fields, Medicine Hole

We found the LMSP to be setting on the rim of the Little Missouri River Valley. Its high, breezy and wide open. If you don’t have horses you’re pretty much stuck with walking the valley. They claim fifty miles of trails. It must be wonderful but this old man is going to have to stick to walking the top of the plateaus. While the weather here has generally been 80s and 90s in day time and many nights in the 50s. They tell me the valley many times has no breeze and gets up to 105, as reported by a rider after a day of riding. The park is very clean and has pay showers, vaulted toilets, good ATT cell, good WI-FI, and five over the air TV channels.

The Oil Boom is definitely in this area. At night you can see for miles around the oil/gas separator flames burning. If you look on google earth you will see thousands of drilling pads to the south of the Little Missouri park.

We did meet some Mule Riders….very interesting learning about the difference between riding horses verses mules. Apparently the mules are steady climbers whereas the horses lunge up the steep parts of the trails. The ladies with the mules, Toni and Gayle, were exceptionally friendly and ready to talk “mule” anytime we had a question.  Their mules, Sally was Toni’s and Ellie was Gayle’s, were beautiful. Ellie was HUGE! Zac, the park manager, said she was one of the largest he had ever seen. All in all, the park was a unique experience especially for an old couple who haven’t been around horses or mules except at the zoo!!!

We drove up here through the middle of Nebraska and the western edge of South Dakota and North Dakota! We find there are only small pockets of things that catch our attention. The plains are amazing for this country boy to see. But it doesn’t take long to know you can see it all and say you have been there and done that with one sweep of the horizon.

Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Buffalo SD, Bowman ND, Marmarth, Dickinson, Grassy Butte, CANAM HWY, Watford City, Mandaree

Left South Dakota and moved into North Dakota to find the Little Missouri River and Teddy Roosevelt National Park. On our way we found the little town of Marmarth on the 4th and they where having a Rodeo, my “First Rodeo”. Was a lot of fun.

Teddy Roosevelt National Park, the South Unit, only gets one star from us. No Dump, Dry Camping, First Come First Serve unless someone made a Reservation, so many site sat empty for the two days we where here. The lane around the camp ground is not trimmed for big rigs. If the old banker comes in with more rig than he can handle he will get a limb. Grass and brush around camp site is rough and not trimmed back, so you have to step out of your rig into the tall stuff. Tent campers have it worse the way we see it. The grass is taller then their tents. There is no showers but the bathrooms are clean and have flush toilets, thus my one star.

Made our way up to the TRNP “The North Unit” to find much better conditions. Open spaces and cleaner conditions. A smaller Scenic Drive but it is very nice. Back in Missouri they would call the area along the Little Missouri River a “River Valley”. But here they call the valley and canyons along the river the “Bad Lands”.

 

The Valley of the Castles, SD

Belle Fourche SD, Nisland, Newell, Castle Rock, Hoover, Reva, Slim Buttes,

After riding out a Tornado Warning in Belle Fourche we moved on north from the Black Hills. Found our way into Slim Buttes Campground. Turns out to be a wonderful place for small rigs and dry camping.

Did a little work on the rig and mostly set in the yard and enjoyed the sun shine. The weather was mostly in the 70’s during the day with a good breeze that had just enough nip to it we needed to wear jeans and be in the sun. Night times where mostly in the 50’s.

Spent some time each day hiking the Valley of the Castles. Very interesting but had this old man at about his limits. If the weather was not so nice it would be pretty hot down there. The castles and surrounding buttes are amazing, but with the bottom all white the sun can fry an egg even on a cool day.. We did have three days of hiking, sitting and cooking so if you get a chance, take a look at the Slim Buttes Castle Rock area.

Black Hills, South Dakoda

Custer, Needles Highway, Needles Eye, Iron Mountain Road, Sylvan Lake, Wildlife Loop Road, Mount Rushmore

The Black Hills are very interesting to ride through and explore. Lots of walking for this old man and the bike trails are pretty great also. The Rail to Trail we found near Custer is self pay. But the five mile stretch we took between the Crazy Horse Monument and Custer was amazing.

We staked out a place at the Custer Crazy Horse RV Park for four nights and set to work wearing ourselves out each of three days driving and walking the park. The Bad Lands, Devils Tower and the Black Hills are not to be missed. But they are not my cup of tea. I will be glad to be back on my two lane road again going places where not everyone goes. And the locals are glad to see us coming down the road.

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Rapid City, Sturgis, Deadwood, Lead, Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Aladdin Wy , Aladdin, Hulett, Devils Tower, Sundance, Four Corners, Newcastle, Hells Canyon, Custer SD

Stopped over night in Rapid City and then on to Sturgis, Deadwood and Lead for a big day of bike riding and checking out the Tourist Shop’s.  Its amazing to watch rain storms coming over the plains. You can watch a storm for an hour or two coming your way to only find it raining on you for a few minutes. Finally ran about twenty miles of interstate up from Rapid City to Belle Fourche. And then back on our two lane Journey.

Came at the Devils Tower from the north and following the Belle Fourche River through Aladdin and Hullett. Wonderful old Coal Mine to explore along the way with a neat 115 year old grocery store in Aladdin, WY. Population 15! The town of Hulett is also very picturesque.

When we got to Devils Tower the weather was cool and perfect to hike the tower trail. Not a lot to see here unless you want to clime the tower!  But the camp ground is very nice dry camping.

Made our ways back to the Black Hills taking a route through the Thunder Basin National Grassland and onto the Crazy Horse Campground in Custer, SD. Staying here for four days and see what we can see in the Black Hills National Park.

Bad Lands South Dakota

Valentine NE, Mission ND, White River, Wanblee, Kadoka, Bad Lands NP, Scenic, Green Valley, Rapid City

As we came out of Valentine we had a foggy morning and some road construction. But as the sun came out we found South Dakoda to be a lot like Nebraska, but I think less trees. Rolling hills and grass lands with Cattle and Horses. We crossed the White River just south of Kadoka, witch to my surprise is really “White”. This was where we got our first look at the Bad Lands, and like so many places we have seen, pictures will never describe how amazing it is.

We layed over at the truck stop at Kadoka and waited out a night of rain and went into the park in the morning.  We came in from the east side of the park where the plains simply falls away to the view of the valley that is the Bad Lands. The second pull out has plenty of room for big rigs and we spent most of the day there trying to take in all the different trails. Unlike some parks we have been in you can pretty much wander around anywhere. It was wet in the morning, witch makes the mud stick to your shoes. But in only a couple of hours the place became dry enough to walk most everywhere.

We tried to use the RV Park that the Park provides but found the accommodations to be much hander at the little town of Interior, The Bad Lands RV Park. In our two day stay we got to visit the Wall Drug Store and seen Big Horn Sheep, Bison roaming the hills at the West Gate. We have hundreds of photos and movies. And we have posted some but you have to be there to watch the sun change the looks of the Buttes and Spirals and layers of color in the land as it moves across the sky.

Nebraska Sandhills Journey

Marysville KS, Fairbury NE, Hebron, Worlds Largest Porch Swing, York, Aurora, Grand Island, Broken Bow, Thedford, Valentine, Mission, White River, Potato Creek, Interior

Came out of Marysville, KS and headed north off the Pony Express Trail and headed north on the Oregon Trail toward Nebraska. Stopped by the Worlds Largest Porch Swing at Hebron, NE. Went on up to Aurora, NE and stayed at their City Park and did a few days bike riding. Nice town and a great park.

From Aurora we traveled the Sandhills Journey Hwy up to Thedford, NE and headed north on the Blue Star Memorial Hwy. Found a nice Road Side Park and thought about staying the night, but with no cell service, we moved on to the Valentine’s City Park. After a night there we moved into town to the Wacky West Travel Park and spent the week end with full hook ups and waited to go to the “Bad Lands NP” during the week.

After checking out the “Cowboy Rail to Trail” in Valentine we moved on north into South Dakota and through the Rosebud Indian Reservation and onto White River. Then west to Potato Creek, then north to Interior, SD. and onto our next adventure.

The Pony Express Trail

Salem, Rolla, Lebanon, Camdenton, Osage Beach, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Whiteman AFB, Higginsville, Hamilton, St. Joseph, The Flint Hills, Hiawatha, Kickapoo (KS) Reservation, Marysville

After a week we found ourselves on the Pony Express Trail in KS. The Flint Hills area lets us know we are back in KS and out on the plains. Flat and rolling hills as far as the eye can see, farm land and some live stock.

Landed in a the small town of Marysville. They boast the Home Station for the Pony Express, the Oregon Trail and their Black Squirrels. The squirrels are said to be the result of escapees from a traveling circus. Several Museums are here with lots of history about the Pony Express. A nice Rail to Trail bike trail just a couple miles out of town.