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suggestions for visit to TRNP

Middletown, Delaware
Level Contributor
7 posts
19 reviews
suggestions for visit to TRNP

we are flying in late 6.9 and planning to stay till the 11th. suggestions on what to see. Age ranges 7, 11, 24, 43,46, 71 and 74. Would like to do some hiking if possible.

21 replies to this topic
Rockford, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,438 posts
215 reviews
1. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

You could do the south unit of the park one day and the north unit the other day.

South Unit:

Teddy Roosevelt's cabin.....a ranger gives a tour here.....quite interesting.

Drive the scenic loop drive.....lots of nice viewpoints, prairie dogs, and hikes. We did two short hikes/walks on the scenic drive....Ridgeline Nature Trail and Buck Hill.

Near the south unit is the Painted Canyon area (you need to get back on I-94 to get to this area). There's a cool trail there that goes down into the badlands

North Unit:

I have not been here, but there is also a scenic drive with overlooks and hikes. Perhaps someone will come along who has more specific advice on this area.

Hudson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,071 posts
57 reviews
2. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

Yes, do the South Unit one day and the North Unit the other day.

South Unit:

See Teddy's cabin at the visitor center in Medora.

Drive the scenic loop drive stopping at the overlooks. The best hikes on the loop are Ridgeline Nature Trail, the short walk at Boicourt Overlook, and the fabulous Wind Canyon.

Visit the Painted Canyon area off I-94 east of Medora. It has sweeping views and the Painted Canyon Nature Trail, which is possibly the most scenic trail in the park.

Any extra time this day you could do other activities in Medora: the Pitchfork Fondue, Medora Musical and Chateau de Mores Historic Site.

North Unit:

Drive the scenic drive stopping at the overlooks.

The two best trails are easily Caprock Coulee and Sperati Point.

Hudson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,071 posts
57 reviews
3. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

I see from another post that you are driving down to Deadwood on Monday the 11th (afternoon). Just FYI, that would take you about 4 hours to drive via US 85 south from Medora, ND. And there is hardly a place to eat/stop outside of Bowman, ND on your way that route all the way to Belle Fourche, SD. (The town of Buffalo, SD has one gas station, IIRC.)

Since you'll probably want to leave TRNP by ~3pm on the 11th, you may not have much time for the North Unit, as that is an hour drive in the opposite direction you'll need to go. Unless you got up really early on the 11th and headed there ASAP, you wouldn't have a lot of time there. And since you'll have such a large group in tow, it may be difficult getting up there. The North Unit is beautiful, and you would hardly see a soul. But the South Unit is more popular as it is closer to more amenities with less driving needed between points of interest.

I would still prioritize driving the South Unit Loop Road and doing the Ridgeline Nature Trail, Boicourt Overlook walk and Wind Canyon hike. And then doing the Painted Canyon Nature Trail at Painted Canyon as well.

If you skipped the North Unit, you would have more time for things to do/explore in Medora the morning/early afternoon of the 11th. Or, as some people have done, you could leave Medora in the morning, drive down to Belle Fourche and over to Devils Tower in the afternoon. The drive between Belle Fourche and Devils Tower via SD 34/WY 24 is gorgeous. At Devils Tower, the most popular thing to do is hike the 1.1 mi. Tower Trail around the base of the tower to get views of it from all sides. Great views along the way. From there, you could head over to Deadwood for the night.

Middletown, Delaware
Level Contributor
7 posts
19 reviews
4. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

Do you think doing the North unit on the 10th and the South unit on the 11th is feasible. Then we would head down to SD in the late afternoon or evening.

Rockford, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,438 posts
215 reviews
5. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

I think that might work for you to do the north unit first. Let's see what Jeremiah thinks......he seems a little more knowledgeable about this area than I am.

Hudson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,071 posts
57 reviews
6. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

Yes, doing the North Unit on the 10th would work. It will likely take you about 1 hr. 20 min. to drive to the North Unit from Medora. The drive in the North Unit is an out and back drive. Outside of stopping at the overlooks, hike the Caprock Coulee Nature Trail (1.5 mi. RT) and to Sperati Point (1.5 mi. RT). Both trails are fairly easy. The two most scenic overlooks are the River Bend Overlook and Oxbow Overlook. When I have visited, we have been able to see everything we think we needed to in less than 5 hours in the North Unit.

What I would probably recommend then is to stop at Painted Canyon and hike the Painted Canyon Nature Trail (1 mi. RT) on your way back to Medora that late afternoon on your return. It is more scenic that time of day. You may still even have time for something else in Medora that evening.

If you did the South Unit on the 11th, rethinking the time you would have, you could make it work. The short but very scenic walks to Skyline Vista, Buck Hill and Boicourt Overlook take very little time. And the short Ridgeline Trail (0.6 mi. RT) and Wind Canyon (0.4 mi. RT) hikes you would also have plenty of time for.

Middletown, Delaware
Level Contributor
7 posts
19 reviews
7. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

Thank you so much for all your suggestions. Any places that you would consider good eats?

Hudson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,071 posts
57 reviews
8. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

Hands down, the world famous Pitchfork Fondue is great eats for supper in Medora.

You will have to bring a picnic lunch when you visit the North Unit. No food or services nearby unless you go out of your way to Watford City. Belfield has very limited options. Medora has other food options in town as well.

Side note: when you visit the Black Hills, make sue you eat at the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park. I've traveled all over the USA and the food there is some of the best I've ever eaten.

Middletown, Delaware
Level Contributor
7 posts
19 reviews
9. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

thank you both for all your help! I am looking forward to this trip!

Rockford, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,438 posts
215 reviews
10. Re: suggestions for visit to TRNP

You're welcome!

Have a wonderful time!

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