Virtual Travel – South Dakota

Much like the movie North by Northwest, we head to South Dakota.

Cinema South Dakota: North By Northwest 50th Anniversary

 

2012 07 09 245

 

 

 

Overview

1953     1954     1958     1972     1978     1982

 

State Capital

Pierre is the state capital – the 2nd smallest city in the country to be a capital. (photo from Wikipedia)

State Capitol, Pierre - Tripadvisor

 

State Symbols (photos from State Symbols)

State Animal – Coyote.

About the State of South Dakota: South Dakota Secretary of State

 

State Desert – Kuchen

 

State Bread – Fry  Bread. A Native American food.

Navajo frybread

 

 

Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Midwestern USA City Escape

Skyline of Downtown Sioux Falls | Visit Sioux Falls | Sioux falls ...

 

 

 

Badlands. This large National Park covers much of Western South Dakota. It’s unique geology makes it an interesting place for photography.

 

Wall Drug – Some tourist traps are too appealing to skip, and Wall Drug has to be at the top of this list. There are signs for Wall Drug along the interstate for 300 miles either side of the town.

 

 

Corn Palace – This Moorish designed building is one of a kind, with the exterior and interior walls covered by murals made from corn.

 

Murdo – Pioneer Auto Museum. This town is about 1/2 way across the state, making it a good stop to stretch your legs. The Pioneer Auto Museum is a quirky place with cars, truck,s farm vehicles and other kitsch scattered about through barns and buildings.

 

 

 

 

Mt Rushmore

1960     1964     1971     1996     2013     2015

 

Easily the largest tourist attraction in the state is Mount Rushmore. The artist who designed them is Gutzon Borglum. It is one of those attractions that when you first see it you say ‘yep that is what it looks like in the pictures’, but with closer inspection it is an amazing accomplishment.

 

The nearby Black Hills have a number of great places to visit as well.

 

Nearby is the Crazy Horse Memorial.

The Memorial to Crazy Horse Has Been Under Construction For Almost ...

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – North Dakota

Today’s stop is North Dakota. A sparsely populated state along the Canadian border, North Dakota is a place with cold winters, hot summers and vast prairies.

 

History 

1954 – Natural Resources     1983 – State Capitol

 

Bismarck is the state capital. The Capitol is the tallest building in the state, measuring 241′ (73m) high. Nearby is the North Dakota State Museum.

The grounds include a number of statues and monuments including Sakakawea, a Shoshone woman who helped Lewis & Clark make their way to the west coast.

2015 09 07 133 Bismarck ND

 

Unique Symbols of North Dakota

Official State March – The Flickertail March. I am not certain it would work for the military but the Flickertail is a squirrel that has a distinctive jerk of their tails, or flicks, while running – and North Dakota has saw fit to make this their State March! (photos from statesymbols.org)

 

State Fossil – Teredo Petrified Wood. This petrified wood is unique in that it has ‘worming’ of the original wood that is clearly present in the fossils.

 

 

 

The Landscape

1958 & 1983 – Theodore Roosevelt National Park     1994          2002/2003     2011     2013

 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in the far western part of the state. This massive park is a tribute to Roosevelt, who came to the area in 1883. After family tragedy, he returned to North Dakota the following year, and spent a few years in the area.

The area’s badlands and wildlife make for a scenic experience.

2015 09 08 108 Theodore Roosevelt National Park ND

 

 

 

Uniquely North Dakota

1965 – Rest Area     1984 – Interstate in the Badlands     2005 – Trail of Legends

 

 

Fargo is the largest city in the state, with 125,00 residents. It is on the Red River, which forms the border of Minnesota. The visitor center has the woodchipper from the movie ‘Fargo’

 

 

Medora is a small town near the national park. Among the attractions here is the cabin that Roosevelt lived in.

 

 

As you leave Bismarck headed west you come to the small town of New Salem, with the giant fiberglass cow – Sue.

 

 

 

1973 & 2009 – Native Americans

 

Native American’s have inhabited the North Dakota area for thousands of years. Today there are 30,000 Native Americans living in the state, one of the largest percentages of any state, giving the state a strong native presence.

Sisseton Wahpeton Powwow Grounds (photo from Flickr)

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate powwow grounds, Agency Village, La… | Flickr

 

 

Many have capitalized on the ability to have casinos to sustain their tribes, including Spirit Lake

Spirit Lake Nation suspends referendum on liquor sales at casino

 

 

Today’s younger Native American’s continue to take pride in their culture and lands. (photo from Earthjustice.com)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Takes Action to Protect Culture and ...

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Montana

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Welcome to Montana – unfortunately by the time I got around to going there they had done away with the No Speed Limit laws!

 

State Symbols

Animal – Grizzly Bear

Grizzly bear

 

State Flower – Bitterroot

Bitterroot flower (Lewisia rediviva)

 

State Grass – Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Bluebunch wheatgrass

 

 

Glacier National Park

1947     1957     2009

 

One of the most scenic areas of the state is in Glacier National Park. Sadly from the 150 glaciers that were in the park in the late 1800s they are down to 25 active glaciers, with the expectation that those too will be gone within 10 years.

The year of our visit was a bad year for forest fires, so there was a smoky haze over the entire area. Still with the lack of glaciers and the haze it is a beautiful place.

 

This photo from Wikipedia shows a much clearer view of the scenery.

Mountain Goat at Hidden Lake.jpg

 

 

 

Outdoors

1954     1958     1971     1994     2002     2003     2011     2013     2016

 

Montana is the 4th largest state in area, but 8th least populated, making it the 3rd least densely populated state (behind Alaska and Wyoming). With all that open space, the wilderness is a big appeal for residents and visitors.

 

Makoshika State Park in far eastern Montana. It is the largest state park in the state covering more than 11,000 acres of badlands.

The park is noted for the dinosaur fossils located there.

2015 09 09 7 Glendive MT

 

 

The Yellowstone River traverses much of Eastern Montana.

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Not far from Billings is this outcropping known as Pompey’s Pilar. Standing 150′ above the Yellowstone River, it has an abundance of Native American petroglyphs as well as signatures of many of the pioneers who passed this way. Most noted of those is William Clark, of Lewis & Clark fame.

2015 09 09 110 Pompey's Pillar National Monument MT

 

 

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is an amazing spot in southern Montana. The canyon is 1000′ deep.

2015 09 10 20 Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area WY MT

 

 

Beartooth Highway is in the southwest Montana mountains, providing scenic views all along the way. (Photos from the internet)

Beartooth Highway, Montana, Part 2 - Roc Doc Travel

Dramatic Scenic Drive on Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone - My ...     Photos that Prove that the Beartooth Highway is the Most Beautiful ...

 

 

 

Cowboys and Bison

1985     1989     2007

 

The Cowboy culture is alive and kicking in Montana. Robert Redford has added much of the current mystique with movies such as A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer.

 

As a result rodeos are a big deal throughout the state. (photo – Moon Travel Guide)

The Best Small Town Rodeos in Montana & Wyoming | Moon Travel Guides

 

The University of Montana even has a Rodeo (photo from University of Montana Rodeo Team).

 

Visit Great Falls Montana - Behind the Rodeo Chutes in Montana's ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Montana – National Parks Road Trip – Day 6 – Makoshika State Park, Pompey’s Pillar and Billing

Another early start – so early the hotel wasn’t offering breakfast yet, so we continued our westward trip on Interstate 94, stopping at a truck stop with a Subway for breakfast egg burritos and orange juice. Breakfast was tasty but a little spicy.

Crossing into Montana, we exited at the town of Glendive to see fossils of dinosaurs at Makoshika State Park. We hiked the Diane Gabriel Trail that led us to the site of a Hadosaur fossil. The fossilized bones were not easy to spot until we looked at the small bones available for us at the viewing platform and compared them to the natural area of the exposed fossil. At that point, we could identify the fossil. Hey, we touched dinosaur bones! That is not something you get to do every day.

2015 09 09 7 Glendive MT.jpg

 

Sadly the days of no speed limits in Montana is over so I had to settle for setting the cruise control on 85 for the trip across sparsely populated Eastern Montana. We saw miles of wide open ranges of wheat-colored fields dotted with black cows. The range spans to a backdrop of mesas and rocky mounds that extend from the Badlands of North Dakota.

Another of our breaks from the drive was in Miles City, Montana, where we checked out the Range Riders Museum. The museum had local heritage and history displays. We touched large dinosaur bones, saw saddles, tools, guns, wagons, arrowheads, native beadwork and photos of native tribes and even early settler’s homes.

2015 09 09 51 Miles City MT.jpg

 

Just east of Billings is Pompey’s Pillar, a National Park. The park boasts a signature of William Clark from the Lewis and Clark expedition. A nice museum came first exhibiting items from the expedition when Lewis and Clark explored this area and the Yellowstone River. Exiting the museum you can follow the trail and climbed a steep flight of 215 stairs to the observation deck to see where Custer’s troops protected the railroad surveyors 60 years after the Lewis and Clark expedition.

One of the noteworthy sights at Pompey’s Pillar are the signatures that the early visitors carved into the side of the stone, most noteworthy being the name of William Clark, protected behind Plexiglas. We walked the path near the pillar to find a stone slab replica of the Clark signature and also petroglyphs and pictographs for handicapped persons to see who are unable to climb the steps. The large stone pillar is named after Sacagawea’s son that Clark nicknamed “Pomp” or Pompey. Sacagawea was the Shoshone woman who helped Lewis and Clark. She and her husband Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian, travelled with the expedition from Fort Mandan.

2015 09 09 128 Pompey's Pillar National Monument MT.jpg

 

After completing the tour of Pompey’s Pillar we continued on into the city of Billings, Montana, and continued to the bluff overlooking town called Rimrocks. The Billings airport is set on the rim so that airplanes slowed above us to land on the runway across the street. The Rim Rock is an area that was part of a great inland sea 80 million years ago that once covered an area from the present-day Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic north. Some areas of the sandstone cliffs are nearly 1400 feet high. A river much larger than the current Yellowstone river carved a canyon to create the rim rocks.

 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – National Parks Road Trip – Day 5

Heading further west from Bismarck we stopped in New Salem, North Dakota, we saw Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow. The larger-than-life statue stands atop a rise overlooking fields of grain. We stood under Sue shivering in our shorts as a cold temperature of 42 degrees hit while we watched the sun appear above the horizon.

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Another hour west and we arrived at the visitor center for the Teddy Roosevelt National Park where Margi, the park ranger, was very helpful providing maps and directions. From the visitor center we hiked the Painted Canyon Trail to see the start of the Badlands. This trail, while only a little more than a mile long has numerous drops and rises as you traverse the badlands. While there was plenty of evidence of wildlife in the area, we saw none on this hike, however the interesting erosion patterns of the landscape made the hike worthwhile.

This visitor center also serves as a rest area on I-94, but to see the bulk of the park you must exit the interstate at Medora, and enter the South Unit. After purchasing our annual passes for the National Parks, we headed into the main portion for a day of driving the auto tour loop, interspersed with various hikes.

Our first hike in the South Unit on the Ridgeline Trail and Buck Hill Trail provided another overview of the badlands, as well as a herd of wild horses. Later on the drive we stopped to observe an entire colony of prairie dogs, followed by a group of bison crossing within five feet of our car. By the time we had finished the drive we also came across turkey, coyote, hawks, and eagles.

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Returning to Medora for lunch at the Little Medora Restaurant, named after the nearby river. We tried our first elk burgers; which were excellent though not much different than beef burgers. We spent an hour hanging around the town, as well as a brief visit to an upscale golf course called Bully Pulpit. As with many places in arid areas the lush green golf course seems out of place.

Returning to the park we hiked Wind Canyon Trail and the Boicort Trail. Later we spent more time watching the comical movements of the prairie dogs popping out of their holes in the ground and scurrying about. The prairie dogs seemed curious of the bystanders who stopped to watch them. We again saw bison throughout the day and more wild horses.

Returning back to town we had a dinner of pizza at the Badland Pizza and Saloon where servers from many foreign countries waited tables. After dinner we went back to the Teddy Roosevelt National Park to try to see the elk feeding in the pastures. We did not see elk but raced back to Wind Canyon to watch the sunset over the river. As we climbed the trail to the peak  the sky of deep pinks and peach colors that streaked across the sky and reflected in the river was breathtaking. We spent the entire day taking photos of the colorful sky from dusk to nearly dark.

2015 09 08 138 Theodore Roosevelt National Park ND.jpg

 

On the way back to town we parked to look at stars. As we patiently waited the starts began to appear. The void of electric lights and the distance from town gave us a black background for a picture of stars unlike any we have ever seen. The abundance of stars filled the sky and it was sad to think that we have not had a chance to see these stars before. It was so worth it to stay after dark to check out the stars, seemingly having the park to ourselves.

We returned to the Rough Rider Inn satisfied with a great day in the Badlands.