We spent the weekend in the Little Missouri National Grasslands, camping in Slope County, at the Burning Coal Vein U.S. Forest Service campground, attending the Badlands Conservation Alliance outing, gathering with old friends and making new friends.
While Saturday was cool and windy, Sunday was a perfect 75 degrees and sunny. We also got a brief, but enjoyable, visit with our old friends, John and Jennifer Hanson of the Logging Camp Ranch, just before we departed for Medora. (Note: It appears that the USFS is now officially calling the LMNG the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. I think I’m too old to make an adjustment to this nomenclature.)
My pictures tell the story better than my words possibly could. I hope you like these. If you go, be sure to do your research in advance and buy yourself a map. And take water.
I wonder how many times I’ve driven by this sign?
The LMNG is managed for multiple uses. Horseback riding is popular.
Kim Shade’s Ranch entrance sculpture.
BCA group gathers to discuss a long ago mineral transfer that protected some of this landscape.
Purple coneflowers are in bloom.
One of the many Maah Daah Hey trail markers.
This is the symbol for the Maah Daah Hey trail.
Juniper Overlook at the Burning Coal Vein. The Rocky Mountain junipers once grew in a columnar shape because of the sulfurous fumes. However, the coals no longer burn, hence the junipers have reverted to their natural shape.
Sandstone shaped by wind and water.
Lizzie was Dee-lighted that she got to come on this outing with us.
One of the most robust yuccas I’ve ever seen!
One can see the ribbon of a segment of the Maah Daah Hey trail in the distance.
A side trip to the Little Missouri River, which is woefully low in this drought. Here we partook of crackers and cheese and cocktails.
Sandbar willows on the banks of the Little Missouri River.
We managed to snag campsite numero uno.
And I spotted juneberries at our campsite,which we picked. (Photo by Jim Fuglie).
Manna from heaven — juneberries.
The temperatures dipped into the 40s, in the night so we snuggled Lizzie in our extra blankets inside the tent.
This tablecloth and cooler have been used at hundreds of campsites in the U.S. and Canada.
The hike for Day 2 was to the Ponderosa Pines Research Natural Area.
A ball cactus found tucked within a rock.
Blooming ball cactus. (Photo by Connie Triplett).
I spotted this chartreuse caterpillar.
Jan Swenson surveys the view.
Time for lunch and learning.
Laura Anhalt and Tracy Potter.
When one walks across it, the air is pungent with the fragrance of the creeping juniper.
Western Salsify (Goatsbeard).
Last view of the Teepee Buttes.
Back in Medora, the annual Car Show had just wrapped up, so we only got to see this sweetie when we stopped for ice cream.
Then, hoping for more juneberries, we headed down Scairt Woman Road to the Ice Caves in McKenzie County. No luck there but another pleasant hike before turning our car toward Bismarck and home.
Jim emerges from one of the ice caves.
I am in love with sandstone. With what water and wind does to sandstone.
Happy trails to you, gentle reader. Pray for rain.Maah Daah Hey trail