Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Exploring the Great West: Day Four, Part Three: Painted Canyon and Medora's New Pancratz Trail

This is a continuation of a travel series to The Great West.  To start at the beginning, go HERE, HERE, and 

The past two weeks I've been sharing our adventures of all the trails and scenic views on the Scenic Loop Road in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  When we completed the loop we returned to the town of Medora to grab an early dinner.  I plan on doing a post just on the town of Medora in a future travel post where I will share all the great shopping and places to eat.  After dinner we drove to the Painted Canyon.  

Painted Canyon Trail

Now technically, the Painted Canyon is part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  However, you don't need to pay to see this part of the park.  It is located right off the highway, and you can just pull in and walk around the rim of the canyon, visit the Painted Canyon Visitor Center, or take a hike for absolutely nothing!

The rim of the Painted Canyon reminded me of walking the rim at Bryce Canyon National Park.  It is a lovely, paved walk people of all skill levels can enjoy.  But beware, buffalo patties were spotted everywhere in this area, including right by the Visitor Center and paved walk way.  

The Painted Canyon is about a ten minute drive from the town of Medora.  It got its name from the colorful rock layers.  On the rim walk, you see a magnificent panorama of the badlands and colorful hues. We were there when the sun was still quite strong, so the hues in the photos appear more washed out than they are in real life.

We didn't hike much today, and after a refreshing dinner, we were ready to try another short hike, so we decided to take the Painted Canyon Trail.  This trail was a disaster.  We thought it would take us deep inside the canyon so we would be looking up at the topography but the markings were so obscure and there were so many buffalo trails, that we kept getting lost.  It was very desolate, and we were terrified of running into a buffalo as we kept seeing so many patties.  We kept hiking until we reached a dry river bed that was taller than us on either side.  We both felt very uncomfortable because we couldn't see if anything was ahead, so we decided to turn around and go back.  When we got to the top of the trail and I saw the map, I think we only made it to the blue river line.  I'm not sure exactly.  It was a very confusing trail.

If you were to complete the entire trail, it would be 4.3 miles out to the Paddock Creek Trail and back.  It is rated as Moderate.  I would agree with the rating because once you make it through the slightly steep descent, the land is relatively level.  

There is another trail in this area called the "Painted Canyon Nature Loop".  This one is a one mile loop close to the Visitor's Center.  We did not take that trail, but I sure wish we did.  Maybe another time.

Since I've been home I've read a lot of reviews about this trail and many of them said they came across buffalo, elk, and other wildlife.  Many hikers said they couldn't complete the trail because of the bison.  I feel fortunate that we did not encounter any on the day we there.

Other hikers also said the trail was tricky.  Apparently the buffalo like to use the trail signs as scratching posts, so they keep knocking them over,  Those naughty bison! 😁

The trail walks you through prairies where you see lots of wildflowers and sage brush in addition to the colorful buttes.

The buffalo trails look exactly like the actual trail (pictured below) that is why it's so easy to confuse them and get lost.

Even though I found this trail frustrating, a little scary, and confusing, it was still a pretty nature hike.

Pancratz Trail

Well, believe it or not, we weren't finished with our hiking adventures for the day yet!  We drove back into town, then decided to walk across the street to the Pancratz Trail.  This trail is brand new to Medora.  It takes you high above the town to enjoy beautiful vistas of the town of Medora.   Unfortunately, we were hiking it at sunset so I didn't get the greatest of pictures as the sun was hitting my camera lens.  If we ever make it back to Medora, I hope to hike this trail at sunrise or midday.

There are only two hotels located right in the town of Medora and that the Badlands Motel and the famous Rough Riders Hotel.  We are budget travelers, so we stayed at the motel.  We could see people hiking this trail from our motel window.  The Badlands Motel is the long building behind the blue construction fence.  They were building a water park while we were there.  In front of the water park, is a miniature golf place.

Once you make it to the top of the trail you have a decision to make...take a very steep ladder to an even higher point, or take the chickens way out and walk along the bluff line without climbing the ladder.  I had just climbed one of these ladders in the Badland's National Park and I ended up with a thigh injury I was still trying to recover from, so I chickened out and took the "easiest" path.  However, I would not call this path "Easy" as there were some treacherous and very scary drop offs.  In fact, I didn't take many pictures after this point, because I had to put my camera away and cling to the walls.

Hubby on the other hand, wanted to try the ladder, so up he went.  It was very difficult, and he did have to stop and rest at the first landing, but he said the views from the top were amazing!

At this point we separated.  I stayed below, and followed the side of the butte while he hiked above me.  Every now and then I would hear him holler at me so I knew he was around.  I had planned on going up to meet him when I got to the end, but by then it had gotten so dark, we decided to just descend and walk the road home.

I did see this interesting rock formation on my trail, so even though I wasn't able to climb the very top and enjoy the same views my hubby did, I saw things he missed!

The Pancratz Trail is 1.5 miles and ascends 728 feet.  If you're not afraid of heights, it's a really great trail to take when you first get into town.  You can see everything from up there and get a great layout of the land.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

How To Make A Christmas Apron

I love to make cookies with my grandkids.  But being the little tikes that they are, they can get pretty messy helping grandma in the kitchen.  I found this super easy apron tutorial on Pinterest that anyone can make...even if you've never sewn before.

I chose two types of Christmas for each side of the apron.  The main side is a glittery material covered with fun Santa hats. 

The other side is a candy-stripe material.  I not only used this material for the back, but for the straps as well.

I looked at so many different apron patterns on Pinterest and I really found this one to be the easiest.  You can find the full instructions HERE.

And here is a little snapshot of me and Alethea making sugar cookies last Christmas.  I can't wait till she arrives in a few weeks so we can make cookies again!  It's so much fun. 

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Scenic Loop Road Part 2, Exploring the Great West Travel Series

This is a continuation of a travel series to The Great West.  To start at the beginning, go HERE, HERE, and 

Two week's ago, I shared the story of how we ended up visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park and a few stops and short trails we took on the Scenic Loop Road.  This week, I'm going to finish up our drive along the road, sharing two more trails, and a few highlights.

Buck Hill

Buck Hill is the highest accessible place in the park with an elevation of 2,860 feet.  You can enjoy the view from the parking lot, but there is also a short 0.2 mile steep hike to this panoramic vista of the badlands.

As always, there were plenty of buffalo trails you could take in any direction to explore more, which we did!

Coal Vein Trail

This little trail was quite the gem.  We really enjoyed this one.  The coal vein portion of the trail is only a 0.8 mile loop, but I think it's quite a bit longer than that or we got lost because we once again followed a bison trail, for we seemed to spend quite a long time on this one.

When we first started the trail, we came across this bison carcass.  We thought it was pretty cool, as we never saw something like this hiking before! 😀

The trail is very pretty, with lots of wildflowers and cactus.  It kinda reminded me of a trail we took in Zion National Park.

As always, we kept seeing buffalo patties so we had to keep an eye out for buffalo.  Thankfully, we didn't encounter any but I've read many hikers reviews where they said they couldn't complete the trail because of buffalo.

I know the purpose of this trail is to learn about the coal vein, but I was just loving all the wildflowers.  Of course, I probably wasn't even on the trail, and just following a buffalo path, but I was having a good time, so who cares?

The Coal Vein Trail highlights a former coal vein fire.  You are supposed to pick up a guide at the Visitor Center and it correlates with points of interest on numbered posts.  But we were always in the park before the Visitor Center even opened so we never got a guide.  If you'd like to learn more about the Coal Vein fire, you can read all about it HERE

It really is a beautiful area with lots of greenery.

My husband and I both thought this rock formation looked like a rabbit.  Do you see it?  His head would be in the middle of the photo.

This area of the park seemed much greener than the badlands vista we saw earlier in the day.

After we finished the Coal Vein Trail, we got back in the car to drive as far as they would allow us to on the Scenic Loop Road before we had to turn around.  As I explained two weeks ago, the Scenic Road Loop is partially closed due to erosion.

We saw more buffalo.

An interesting "mountain" peak.

And a big daddy buffalo!  This was one of the biggest buffalo we saw in the park.  

But the highlight of our day came when we saw a herd of wild horses crossing the road in front of our car!

This was the first time I got to see them up close!  I got so many great pictures of these beautiful animals. What a thrill it was to see wild horses in nature.

And as I said last week, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is loaded with buffalo.  You can't walk or drive anywhere without seeing herds of them.  They are as common as robins.

Well, when we finished the Scenic Loop Road we decided to pop in the Visitor Center to get some ideas about what to do the next day.  At the back of the Visitor's Center is Theodore Roosevelt's Maltese cross Cabin.  It has been moved from its original location and restored.  Inside the cabin are some of Theodore Roosevelt's personal items.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the only national park named after a president.  He came to the Dakota Territory in 1883 to hunt bison.  A year later, after losing both his wife and mother on Valentine's Day, he returned to the Dakotas to grieve.  He became a cattle rancher, and took some time to have adventures and heal.  

Later, when he was president from 1901-09 Roosevelt established the US Forest Service and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 national monuments.  He worked with Congress to create five national parks, 150 national forests, and dozens of federal reserves--over 230 million acres of protected land.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park was not the president's creation.  It was established in 1947 to honor him and to provide a place for everyone to experience his beloved badlands.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

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