Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Wordless Wednesday: North Dakota’s Badlands

Theodore Roosevelt National Park View

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Overview

Roosevelt National Park View

After an amazing few days in Glacier National Park, it was time for the longest drive of our three-week road trip. We had ten hours ahead of us on US 2 to get from western Montana to North Dakota. In planning this trip, I utilized RoadTrippers to find interesting places to stop along our way to break up the driving. Unfortunately, there wasn’t to be found on this route once we got away from Glacier. The drive was not nearly as bad as I was anticipating, although it was rather boring, audiobooks and podcasts made up for that.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is divided up into three distinct units: The North Unit (near Watford City), The South Unit (near Medora), and The Elkhorn Ranch unit which is between the two. We had planned to spend the first three nights at the Roosevelt Inn in Watford City and then move to a hotel near Medora. We loved the Roosevelt Inn so much that we canceled our other hotel and spent the whole time in Watford City. Chris was working from the hotel this week and our suite had a real kitchen (not the microwave and mini-fridge “kitchenette” that some of our other hotels had) and a separate bedroom so I was able to stay out of his way while he worked. The hotel had a good hot breakfast too. It was the perfect hotel for this part of the trip and we didn’t want to risk switching to a different one that wouldn’t work as well for us.

Now, Watford City is not a tourist hub like some of the other places we had stayed on this trip. There are a lot of oil fields in the area and most of the people at our hotel worked in the oil fields. When Chris went down for breakfast early, he got stared down by tough oil field workers. If this would bother you, this is not the place for you. But, if you are looking for clean, comfortable accommodations close to the north unit of the park, I cannot say enough good things about the Roosevelt Inn.

Rock Formation in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Unique rock formations in the north unit of the park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is named after the 26th President of the United States who is often referred to as the Conservationist President. While president, Roosevelt signed into law five National Parks and 18 National Monuments along with the first 51 bird reserves, four game preserves, and 150 National Forests, totaling 230 million acres.

The future present first came to North Dakota in 1883 to hunt bison. After his wife and mother died on the same day in 1884, Roosevelt returned to the badlands of North Dakota to heal. He was known to say that if it wasn’t for his time in North Dakota, he would never have been president. The area on the Little Missouri River was first set aside for preservation in 1935 before becoming a National Park in 1947.

Be sure to stop by next week when I detail our experiences in the North Unit of the park! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Weeping Wall

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Glacier National Park: North Fork

Polebridge Area

While the entry reservation requirement for the Going-to-the-Sun Corridor seemed to increase visitation throughout other areas of the park, the northern reaches of Glacier National Park seemed to remain unchanged. SmokyBear.com describes the Polebridge entrance as visited “mostly by locals and hardy travelers” and the 35-mile trek on rough unpaved roads probably has a lot to do with it. This area is home to Bowman and Kintla Lakes, the most pristine lakes in the park.

Polebridge MercantileI probably would’ve skipped this section of the park altogether if it wasn’t for the Friends of Glacier National Park Facebook page. With only three full days in Glacier, driving all the way up to Polebridge didn’t seem like the best way to spend my time, but the people in that group RAVE about the Huckleberry Bearclaws at the Polebridge Mercantile. And after seeing fifty or so pictures of the pastries before my trip, I just had to go!

The mercantile had anything you may have forgotten for your outdoor adventures from baked goods and snacks to bandaids and souvenirs. While this area of the park is one of the least visited, everyone that visits stops at the Merc. It was much busier than I expected. We grabbed some bear claws (of course) and some pizza rolls for our long drive the next day to North Dakota.

Exploring the Nature Trail near the MercThe drive up there was not easy and it is recommended that you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive if you plan on making the trek. There were a lot of large potholes and rough roads, but barely any cars at all. There aren’t many places to stay in the far reaches of the park. There is a hostel in Polebridge and some cabins can be found for rent on VRBO. There are also four campgrounds in the area run by the park service. More information about them can be found on NPS.gov.

I do wish we had more time to explore this area of the park. I will have to add that to my list for my return trip to Glacier, whenever that may be!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Sun Road Vista

Logan Pass

Glacier National Park: Kayaking Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

I have wanted to visit Glacier National Park since I saw a picture of Lake McDonald in textbook for my college geography class (yes, this is the same textbook that made me want to see the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone, too). I have been dreaming about getting one of those iconic shots of the lake where you can see the rocks through the crystal clear water and the mountains in the distance ever since then. But, when we stopped at the first overlook the water was covered with this yellow pollen (you can kind of see it in the bottom right cover of this photo) that prevented me from seeing through the water as I had hoped.

The next morning, we headed back to the park early. We headed to the watercraft inspection station to have our kayak inspected so we could head out on this beautiful body of water. To prevent “aquatic hitchhikers” all watercraft must be inspected before you are able to launch in any of the lakes in the park. From everything we read, this should not be a difficult process as long as your boat is dry. That was not our experience at all. The ranger inspecting our kayak wanted it to be completely dry and devoid of all dirt and sand. This probably wouldn’t be a probably with many hard-sided kayaks, especially not the sit-on-top kind, but our Sea Eagle inflatable is not easy to completely dry and near impossible to rid of all sand. Luckily, the rangers provided us with a handheld wet/dry vac and some towels. After that process, the ranger gave us a tag that was good for that day and that body of water only. If we were planning on returning the next day, we would’ve had to do it again.

Kayak on Lake McDonaldAfter that process, we inflated the kayak and hit the water. It was a beautiful paddle, and even though there are kayaks for rent in Apgar Village, we were the only ones on the water. We paddled about half of the lake’s ten miles, before heading back to the shore for lunch. If you enjoy kayaking or paddleboarding, I highly recommend getting out on the water at Glacier National Park and Lake McDonald is probably the most iconic lake in the park for a paddle!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Oberlin Falls

Oberlin Falls

Glacier National Park: Going-to-the-Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road

After exploring all we could on the east side of Glacier National Park, we woke up the third day and discovered that the Going-to-the-Sun road had opened for the season. I have no idea how we got so lucky that it opened up on the day we had to go from Rising Sun Motor Inn to our Airbnb in Whitefish. So, we checked out of the hotel and hit the road much earlier than we expected that day!

Going-to-the-Sun Road is 50 miles long and runs from St. Mary to Apgar Village, crossing the Continental Divide. It is a beautiful drive, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Completed in 1933, the road is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark complete with stunning vistas, tunnels through mountains, hairpin turns, and bridges over cascading waterfalls.

Snow on Logan Pass

Going-to-the-Sun Road is an engineering marvel and you really have to see it to understand it. Before we drove it, I could not figure out how it could be the end of June and the road was not open yet. Then, we drive the portion of the road that was closed only a few hours earlier, get to Logan Pass and some of the hiking trails were still covered in snow (above). On parts of the road, snow was pushed up to create a wall right next to the road. I’m from Michigan, I’m used to snow and cold winters. This was a new experience for me.

I kept thinking if they started plowing in April or May, how could they still be working on it on June 25? Well, up to 80 feet of snow can be lying on the road near Logan Pass in an area known as the Big Drift. The plows can usually reach this area around mid-May but can often take a month or more to plow it due to avalanche risk. We were talking with a ranger on June 24, hoping that the road would open and she told us that at that point, the plowing was done, they were just making sure the road was safe from avalanche risk before opening to the public.

Logan Pass

Late June is spring at Logan Pass!

Now, my description may make this road seem scary, and at times it was a little hair-raising, but the views are absolutely worth it! Due to the nature of the road, vehicles must be less than 21 feet long, ten feet long, and eight feet long to drive between the Avalanche Campground and Rising Sun. If your vehicle is too large or you’re just nervous driving, Glacier Park Lodges offer guided tours on a fleet of historic, red, jammer busses! I was so disappointed that I wasn’t able to score a reservation for one of the tours because the buses are iconic!

In 2021, driving Going-to-the-Sun Road required reservations. Reservations at lodging along the road, the aforementioned bus tours, and boat tours also counted as reservations. If you didn’t have one of those existing reservations, you needed to reserve an entry ticket on Recreation.gov to be able to drive the road during the day. You were also able to enter the road before 8 AM and after 5 PM. A lot of people had difficulty getting reservations. We were able to get them the first day they were available without any problems.

The reduced capacity of the road made for a much nicer driving experience than I had hear about in the past. There was no bumper-to-bumper traffic. A few times, we were able to pull over and take pictures of the road without another car in it! I may be in the minority here, but I really hope they bring back reservations for 2022. They can increase the capacity some, but don’t let it get flooded with cars again. This was a much better way to see this iconic park!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop back next week as I recount our experience launching a kayak in Lake McDonald! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Swiftcurrent Lake

Swiftcurrent Lake

Glacier National Park: Two Medicine

Sinopah Mountain in the Fog

In the summer of 2021 Glacier National Park, instituted a reservation requirement to drive the ever-popular Going-t0-the-Sun Road during the day. These reservations were very difficult to get and many people chose to postpone their trips to Glacier. Those that did not were able to get to the road early in the morning or in the evenings. Another option was to explore the other areas of the park that are not on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Two Medicine is one of these areas.

Historically, the Two Medicine Valley has been one of the least visited parts of the park. Parking was much easier to come by than Many Glacier and the road was not under construction. The drive to the Two Medicine Valley was probably the most breathtaking in the park outside of Going-to-the-Sun Road, although it still had some nail-biting turns! And the view, once you get there (top), is pretty great too!

Kayaks on Two Medicine Lake

Boats on Two Medicine Lake

By the time we got to the Two Medicine Valley for our boat tour, the rain we had been anticipating all day finally came. We contemplated canceling our boat ride, but the tour boats are enclosed and there’s not really another dry option in the park. This boat ride can be used to cut the hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake in half, but with hail coming down, we opted to just relax and stay dry on the boat.

I highly recommend taking one of the boat tours in Glacier National Park. They fill up early, a few weeks in advance, Two Medicine was the only one available for my time in Glacier. Assuming the Going-to-the-Sun Road reservations continue into the future, boat tour reservations on St. Mary Lake and Lake McDonald get you access to the road for the day of your reservation. Check Out GlacierParkBoats.com for pricing and to purchase tickets.

Aside from the boat tours, there are miles of hiking trails to explore in the Two Medicine area of the park. After our boat tour, we enjoyed walking around the Two Medicine Store, which was built in 1914 and is a National Historic Landmark. The 100 site Two Medicine campground is in this section of the park and offers first-come-first-served campsites (10 sites are able to accommodate RVs up to 35 feet) with no electricity but flush toilets.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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