Monday, October 7, 2013

Where the Buffalo Roam: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Veteran cross-country road tripper that he is, James warned me that after we left Montana we’d be in for some monotonous terrain, as well as driving. Sure, sure, there are certainly sites to be seen in the middle of the country, but we had just come from such epic beauty and were also pretty interested in taking the most direct route at that point.

So I rolled into North Dakota with relatively low expectations. Expectations fell even lower as we stopped for lunch at a terrible BBQ joint just outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. At this point I was really ready to do the quickest drive-through of the park in order to get back on the road as soon as possible. James has quite the list of National Parks under his belt and really wanted to add another one, so he persuaded me by saying that there was a chance we could see some buffalo.


“Well… maybe. Probably not.”

Yeah. That was my feeling going in. Like, I was so uninterested that this was the best shot I got as we entered the state:

Anyway, we enter the park and take the little tour of Roosevelt’s cabin and the park ranger is so enthusiastic about Roosevelt’s history that I can’t help but cheer up just a little. I’m a sucker for some American history. So then we start our drive because I’ve already decided that we are not doing any hiking. We’re doing this American style.

I’ve never seen badlands, so I’m pretty intrigued with the geography and feeling more upbeat like this won’t be a waste of time after all. Meanwhile, James is spouting off all sorts of information about the park because he’s basically a human encyclopedia. But wait! What’s that? Is it? Could it be?

“James, I think there are a couple buffalo up ahead!”

Day made. Game over. Buffalo sighting!

Oh, but wait. Not buffalo sighting…

Buffalo HERD sighting!

Here’s a little lesson in Melina Factology. I have the highest affinity for cows. I get it from my Dad. I love cows and think they’re the best. Without them we wouldn’t have cheese and that right there is enough of a reason to love them, but mostly I think they’re majestic and smart. Cows are awesome, better than horses (though horses are only one rung above llamas in my opinion, and don’t even get me started on llamas).

Anyway, so buffalo aren’t cows, but close enough. Hence, I love them. And now we’re in the middle of a whole herd of them because they’ve obviously decided the road is an easier route than trekking through the badlands. See? Smart!

{Most definitely my favorite buffalo, right there.}

After a good while of inching along the road amidst the herd, we decide that unfortunately we need to turn around (I agree, but probably could have stayed there amongst them for the entire length of that road). As we head back, I realize I should probably take a couple pictures of the actual scenery lest I be left with 400 buffalo photos and nothing else to remember this park by.

Then, as we round a bend, what do we see?

Just a pack of wild horses, doing their thing. Mind you this was literally about a minute after James said that it was too bad we hadn’t seen any. The day was fortuitous, my friends.

{Giving us the side-eye, which I respect.}

All in all, Theodore Roosevelt National Park turned out to be a pretty awesome stop after all. Not to mention, it’s actually really quite pretty out there. Far more so than I would have expected. So sorry, North Dakota, for my preconceived notions about your state!

I’ll leave you with a picture James took that I thoroughly enjoy.


  1. this is incredible! i officially want to go to north dakota now.

    1. Haha, I know! Who knew it had so much going on!


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