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Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Sep 19 - Sep 26, 2020 -- $1275 ★★

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is a seldom visited, visually stunning playground featuring tallgrass prairies, ubiquious bison, panoramic plateaus, picturesque buttes, free roaming wild horses, chattering prairie dogs, a petrified forest and the Little Missouri River.

Theodore Roosevelt himself visited here in 1883 on a bison hunt. The bison remain as do mule deer, prairie dogs, elk, wild horses and even bighorn sheep. There are also owls, eagles, woodpeckers and orioles. The often unobstructed views will give us a wonderful opportunity to view wildlife (safely at a distance). September is a great time to visit the park, explore the so-called badlands, and improve body composition.

Our route will begin near Medora, ND right off of I-94 on the Maah Daah Hey Trail. We'll cross over the Little Missouri River and enter the Western Half of the park. We'll pass a large colony of prairie dogs and up to the Petrified Forest Plateau where we'll see a surfeit of ancient petrified wood.

From there, we'll either hike to the far North reaches of the park and ford the Little Missouri to a frontcountry campground: Roundup Horse Camp. (If the Little Missouri is too high, we'll do a somewhat time consuming car shuttle instead). Although you'll be tempted to put all your gear on a horse at Roundup, we will hoist our packs and hike down to the remote Eastern regions of the park through another enormous prairie dog town. We then climb out to a high grassland plateau and hike along the Southern part of the park back to the Little Missouri River.

Much of the trail will be flat, exposed to the sun and possibly very muddy if it rains. However, expect unobstructed views, grassland and warm weather.


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Historical September weather averages 60s and 70s during the day and 40s and 50s at night, perfect for backpacking. However we might experience blazing heat or rain during the day or cold nights. Obviously, you never know until the week of the trip. Bring lots of sun protection and water containers that add up to 8 liters of capacity.

Trip Leaders

Beau Devlin
Rick Romine


$1275 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Dickinson (DIK), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, campground fees, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from the parks, park permits, campground fees and awesome guides.

Important Note

Important! Unlike other trips, we will NOT be obtaining or treating surface water. Instead, the guides will cache water ahead of time that we'll pick up in various locations. Be prepared to carry two gallons (16 pounds) of water in your pack that must last until the next water cache. Although this is burdensome at the outset, by the time we reach the next water, we'll be carrying no water all (0 pounds).

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Fly or drive into Dickinson, ND (DIK). The best time to arrive is between Noon-3PM, but since the airport is small, flights and arrival times are limited.

Call the free airport shuttle that will take you to our local hotel (TBD)

Equipment shakedown. We go through your stuff to make sure you are carrying everything you need ... but no more.

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Trail mix distribution

Buy common last minute and forgotten items at Runnings, 2003 Third Avenue West, Dickinson, ND 58601, 701-483-1226 (open until 7PM)

Go out for dinner at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Sunday, September 20, 2020

2nd set of before body composition measurements taken


Free Breakfast at Hotel

Store all items you won't bring on the trail at either the hotel or a storage unit

Drive / shuttle to Medora, ND to the visitor's center to pick up the backcountry permit.

Start hiking on the bike path at the visitor's center, elevation 2200'

Hike 1.5 miles on the bike path to the Maah Daah Hey trail, elevation 2284'

Hike 3.1 miles on the Maah Daah Hey trail to the Lone Tree Loop Trail intersection, elevation 2300'

Hike 1.0 miles through a prairie dog village to the Little Missouri River, elevation 2250'

Camp off trail in a grove of cottonwoods on the Little Missouri River. Elevation 2250'

If the water level of the Little Missouri is low enough, we can wade across the water and fill water vessels at Peaceful Valley Stables, otherwise we will have to use what we're carrying

Mileage Today: 5.6. Total mileage: 5.6

Possible bailout: Cottonwood Camp

Monday, September 21, 2020

There are 2 options today. If the water level on the Little Missouri River is low enough, we will wade across it (Option A). Otherwise, we will hike through the petrified forest and get a car shuttle (Option B) to the Roundup Horse Camp.

Please Note: IF we wade across the Little Missouri River, make sure to bring water shoes. We must be prepared for high water. We are monitoring water levels on the USGS site

If water levels are too high, we will car shuttle back across the Little Missouri. The shuttle will take a few hours to complete.


Option A

Hike 1.0 miles back to the Maah Daah Hey Trail, Elevation 2300'

Hike 0.4 miles to the Lone Tree Loop Trail, elevation 2271'

Hike 3.7 miles on Lone Tree Loop Trail to the Petrified Forest Loop Trail filling up all water vessels along the way in anticipation of camping in an area without water, elevation, 2700'

Hike 2.3 miles to the Petrified Forest Access Trail intersection, elevation 2700'

In 2014, this trail was very muddy

Hike about 0.8 miles through the Petrified Forest to the Petrified Forest Westgate Trailhead, elevation 2552'

Take a car shuttle to Roundup Horse Camp

Camp at Roundup Horse Camp, with picnic tables, fire pits and privies, elevation 2400'

Mileage Today: 8.2. Total mileage: 13.8

Possible bailout: Petrified Forest Access Road.


Option B

Hike 2.3 miles through a prairie dog village back to the Maah Daah Hey Trail, Elevation 2700'

Hike 0.3 miles on the Maah Daah Hey Trail to the Petrified Forest Loop Trail, Elevation 2700'

Hike 0.5 miles on the Maah Daah Hey Trail to the Mike Auney Trail, Elevation 2700'

Hike 3.0 miles on the Mike Auney Trail wading across the Little Missouri River, Elevation 2239', and hiking on to Roundup Horse Camp elevation 2400'

Camp at Roundup Horse Camp, with picnic tables, fire pits and privies, elevation 2400'

Mileage Today: 6.1. Total mileage: 11.7

Possible bailout: Roundup Horse Camp

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Hike 4.4 miles on an access road and Roundup Camp Trail to the Jones Creek Trail, elevation 2350'

Hike 0.5 miles on the Jones Creek Trail to the Lower Talkington Trail, elevation 2350'

Hike 4.1 miles on the Lower Talkington Trail to the Upper Talkington Trail, elevation 2400'

Fill all water bladders completely from water cached near the park road.

Hike about 0.5 miles past the trail register on the Upper Talkington Trail to an unmarked dispersed campsite, elevation 2400'

Camp at unmarked dispersed campsite practicing the Leave No Trace ethic, elevation 2450'.

Mileage Today: 9.5. Total mileage: 23.3 or 21.2

Possible bailout: Scenic Loop Drive

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Hike 4.5 miles on Upper Talkington Trail through a prairie dog village to Southeast Corner Spring, elevation 2800'

Hike 3.1 miles on Upper Paddock Creek Trail to the Painted Canyon Trail, elevation 2450'

Camp at unmarked dispersed campsite near trail intersection practicing the Leave No Trace ethic, elevation 2450'.

Mileage Today: 7.6. Total mileage: 30.9 or 28.8

Possible bailout: ND 735.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

If necessary, guides (and any participants that would like to) day-hike 4.0 round trip miles to get water, from the rest area off interstate 94.

Hike 3.3 miles on the Upper Paddock Creek Trail to the Scenic Loop Drive, elevation 2400'

Pick up cached water here. This is the last water we'll have for the trip.

Hike about 3.0 miles to an unmarked wilderness camp, elevation 2300'

Camp at unmarked wilderness camp practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 2300'

Mileage Today: 6.3. Total mileage: 37.2 or 35.1

Possible bailout: Scenic Loop Drive

Friday, September 25, 2020

Hike 0.5 miles on the Lower Paddock Creek Trail to Halliday Well Trailhead, elevation 2300'

Hike 0.5 miles to Peaceful Valley Horse area, elevation 2300'

End of hiking (depending upon where vehicles are)

Mileage Today: 1.0. Total mileage: 38.2 or 36.1

Possible bailout: Scenic Loop Drive

Shuttle back to Dickinson

Check back into local hotel (TBD)

"After" measurements taken

Dinner and Awards ceremony at a local restaurant (cost of dinner not included in trip cost)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Free breakfast in Hotel

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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