August 11, 2023

After seeing Badlands in South Dakota, we drove north to see the badlands of western North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Named after the 26th U.S. president, the park memorializes Roosevelt’s love for the region, where he ranched during the late 1800s, and its role in fostering his conservation ethics.

As soon as we entered the park, we spotted bands of wild horses (which brought back memories of wild ponies on Chincoteague Island). We were here in early May, and the trees weren’t even fully leafed out yet, so far north.

According to the park service website:

“Their presence represents Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences here during the open-range ranching era. By the late 1800s European settlement of the plains had reached the Dakotas. Ranchers turned horses out on the open range to live and breed. When needed, they would round up horses and their offspring for use as ranch horses. For generations, ranchers used land that would later become the park for open-range grazing.

After the park was fenced, a horse round-up held in 1954 removed 200 branded animals. A few small bands of horses eluded capture and went unclaimed. These horses continued to live free-range in the park.

For several years the National Park Service tried to remove all horses from the park. In 1970, a change of park policy recognized the horse as part of the historical setting. New policies were written and enacted to manage the horses as a historic demonstration herd.”

They’re graceful animals, and I’m happy we were able to observe them.

It was a cool, sometimes drizzly day as we cruised the scenic loop in the park’s South Unit. (There’s also a North Unit and Elkhorn Ranch Unit, which we didn’t visit.)

These grassy and rock-studded hills are gentler than South Dakota’s moonscape badlands.

We stopped at some of the overlooks to hike short trails…

…and enjoy sweeping views.

From a high bluff, we looked out over the Little Missouri River.

Back on the road, we encountered a furry, 2-ton traffic obstacle.

A lone bison ambled down the center of the blacktop, totally unconcerned about our oncoming truck. We willingly gave him the right-of-way.

He had his sights on a low post for a good neck scratch.

Maybe the cheek too.

Those horns are deadly serious. We got a good look as we rolled past.

A bison paradise

Trees still in winter mode

We kept an eye out for bison on another trail…

…but didn’t spot any. Just a badlands view for mile and miles.

And later, near a soggy picnic spot, more wild horses.

Up next: Yellowstone! — the park I’d been anticipating for the whole trip. For a look back at rugged Badlands National Park, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

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Digging Deeper

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.

All material (C) 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Bison, wild horses roam at Theodore Roosevelt National Park appeared first on Digging.

At Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, we spotted bison and feral horses along with scenic views…. Read More
The post Bison, wild horses roam at Theodore Roosevelt National Park appeared first on Digging.Read MoreDigging

August 11, 2023

After seeing Badlands in South Dakota, we drove north to see the badlands of western North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Named after the 26th U.S. president, the park memorializes Roosevelt’s love for the region, where he ranched during the late 1800s, and its role in fostering his conservation ethics.

As soon as we entered the park, we spotted bands of wild horses (which brought back memories of wild ponies on Chincoteague Island). We were here in early May, and the trees weren’t even fully leafed out yet, so far north.

According to the park service website:

“Their presence represents Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences here during the open-range ranching era. By the late 1800s European settlement of the plains had reached the Dakotas. Ranchers turned horses out on the open range to live and breed. When needed, they would round up horses and their offspring for use as ranch horses. For generations, ranchers used land that would later become the park for open-range grazing.

After the park was fenced, a horse round-up held in 1954 removed 200 branded animals. A few small bands of horses eluded capture and went unclaimed. These horses continued to live free-range in the park.

For several years the National Park Service tried to remove all horses from the park. In 1970, a change of park policy recognized the horse as part of the historical setting. New policies were written and enacted to manage the horses as a historic demonstration herd.”

They’re graceful animals, and I’m happy we were able to observe them.

It was a cool, sometimes drizzly day as we cruised the scenic loop in the park’s South Unit. (There’s also a North Unit and Elkhorn Ranch Unit, which we didn’t visit.)

These grassy and rock-studded hills are gentler than South Dakota’s moonscape badlands.

We stopped at some of the overlooks to hike short trails…

…and enjoy sweeping views.

From a high bluff, we looked out over the Little Missouri River.

Back on the road, we encountered a furry, 2-ton traffic obstacle.

A lone bison ambled down the center of the blacktop, totally unconcerned about our oncoming truck. We willingly gave him the right-of-way.

He had his sights on a low post for a good neck scratch.

Maybe the cheek too.

Those horns are deadly serious. We got a good look as we rolled past.

A bison paradise

Trees still in winter mode

We kept an eye out for bison on another trail…

…but didn’t spot any. Just a badlands view for mile and miles.

And later, near a soggy picnic spot, more wild horses.

Up next: Yellowstone! — the park I’d been anticipating for the whole trip. For a look back at rugged Badlands National Park, click here.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.

All material (C) 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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