There was a time when I thought North Dakota would be the last state we visited. Not because we had anything against this vast northern state, but let’s face it, North Dakota is not really on the way to anywhere, and it’s also not exactly known as a hot bed of interesting attractions. With no mountains, ocean, awesome red rocks, or even much to look at (now that we have driven across the entire state I can confirm there really is not much to see) it wasn’t high on our list of places to visit. But when we found ourselves traveling from Utah to Northern Minnesota, it suddenly seemed possible to not only dip our toes into North Dakota, but to travel across the entire state.
First up was the highly recommended Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Several people told us how much they loved this park so our expectations were high. Maybe a little too high. Maybe we’re spoiled from our recent eight weeks in Utah and the past summers we’ve spent exploring Colorado, Montana, and Maine. I mean, how can a national park that reeks of the midwest possibly compare? (Don’t let its northerly location fool you — North Dakota is firmly in the midwest when in comes to scenery).
We gave ourselves a good talking to before we left Utah to head east. We reminded each other that we’re going east to see family and friends and that’s a good thing. Yes, we’ll be passing through some boring parts of the country, we’ll be encountering humidity, and bugs, and crowded campgrounds. We won’t see any more big mountains, we won’t get to frolic in the Pacific Ocean, and we won’t get to explore many new places. But we’re going to see friends and family. Focus on the good.
So while we enjoyed Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it simply didn’t conjure up the awe and wonder that most other national parks elicit. There’s no doubt that the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt celebrated by the park is important and interesting (you can read about him here), but when it comes to hiking and “blow-me away” scenery, it kind of falls flat.
That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our stay. To the contrary, we loved, loved, loved the Cottonwood Campground inside the park where we scored a massive pull-thru site with a huge back yard and lots of privacy.
We also hiked through a prairie dog town and a petrified forest, drove the scenic loop road, saw ferrel horses, buffalo, and pronghorn, and even spent a pleasant evening with our friends Jen & Q over at the nearby Sully Creek SP ← This was a really nice campground. You can read Jen’s review to learn more.
Overall it was a nice place to spend a few days. Will we add it to our “must return” list? Probably not. Would we recommend it to others who are already in the area or planning to pass by? Absolutely!