Medora, North Dakota
It was only two years ago since we last visited North Dakota’s national park. Though we saw lots of wildlife on that trip, with the exception of getting up close and personal with one bison, most of the wildlife was quite a distance. This year, the park residents were much closer to the 30-mile (48-km) scenic drive. We spent the morning there under hazy skies.
This trip, a herd of wild horses were blocking one lane of the highway. Visitors were only too happy to park along the edge of the road and snap photos of the beautiful animals. A couple of tourists even wandered to within arms length of the closest horse… not something I would recommend. The feral horses found in the park are descendents of those found in the “old west” in the 1800s. The horses resemble those in the paintings of old west artists, Frederic Remington and C. M. Russell. They are typically a bit larger than the mustangs found elsewhere.
The badlands are a rugged mixture of prairie grasslands and rocky landscapes. The park’s website, here, describes the nature and geologic characteristics of the park as well as detailing the history of the park and its inhabitants.
One of the smaller, yet very prolific inhabitants of the park is the prairie dog. Their burrows are everywhere in the park. Hikers need to be careful not to step in a burrow. Injuries on the trail are not welcome. It can be a long walk back to the highway on an injured foot or a broken leg. Along the highway that winds through the park, there are three large areas where these rodents live in colonies. Similar to ground squirrels, the black-tailed prairie dogs are the only species that live in the park. In July, 2013, we also visited the park, and you can read about that trip here. The gallery of images below features the landscape and some of the wildlife that live in the park. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.