The north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located about an hour’s drive north of the south unit on Highway 85, which the locals call “terrifying” because of its high speeds and endless stream of big rig trucks. We enjoyed the south unit, but the north unit is truly spectacular with colorful badlands. Especially striking are the layers of blue-gray bentonite clay, which is made of ash from ancient volcanoes to the far west.
Cannonball concretions are quite rare but are found in abundance in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. These are formed when sand is concreted by calcite and eroded into a spherical shape.
This relatively-arid region was once covered with dense vegetation and swamps. Eventually some of this plant material became petrified. There is lots of exposed petrified wood in the park.
We had our lunch atop a cliff with a terrific view of the Little Missouri River, which runs through both the north and south units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The Caprock Coulee Trail lived up to its name with lots of caprocks and hoodoos.
We’ve seen a lot of hoodoos on our trip, yet each time they are delight to our imagination.
Over time, water has eroded some crazy flow patterns in the badlands rock.
This River Bend Overlook was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Our national parks contain many wonderful trails, buildings, bridges and other structures built by the hardworking men and women of the CCC.
We climbed down off the ridge into a dense forest. This reminded us very much of Kentucky and made us just a little bit homesick. We’ve seen some remarkable places on our trip, but there are few places in the world as beautiful, lush, and fluorescent green as a Kentucky forest in early May.
Can you spot the petrified logs on this hillside?
This bison was hanging out at the entrance to the Visitors Center.
Click on this photo for a large panorama of the beautiful Theodore Roosevelt badlands.