Posts Tagged ‘North Dakota Badlands’

We found the answer to be around 11.5 hours.  The day started in Bismarck, North Dakota.  The original plan was to drive around 2.5 hours to Glendive, Montana, for a couple of activities, and then another hour to Miles City, Montana, to spend the evening.  First rule of the Year Long Adventure – plans must remain flexible.

On our way through North Dakota, we made an unplanned stop near Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  This park is part of the North Dakota Badlands, a truly spectacular geologic formation that stretches as far as the eye can see.   We didn’t officially enter the park, but the scenic overlook off of the highway offered an amazing view.

In Glendive, we planned to check out a dinosaur museum and to tour Makoshika State Park.  We stopped for what we thought was going to be a quick lunch at Dairy Queen before heading to the museum.  There were only two lunch options in Glendive, and the Subway had a line out the door.  We headed into the Dairy Queen to find another long line, so Dad decided that the drive through would be faster.  We ordered very quickly, but the DQ was very understaffed, leading to a 20 minute wait at the window.  At least we were able to watch the 4 year old boy sitting on the floor behind the counter while his mother worked her shift.  Who knew that Dairy Queen offered on-site daycare for their employees?

After lunch, we headed to Makoshika Dinosaur Museum in downtown Glendive.  The idea of displaying dinosaur figures in realistic dioramas is great, but the quality and quantity of the exhibits was less than we expected.  The museum is constructed and staffed entirely by volunteers, and many areas were under construction.

Since the museum was a bit underwhelming, we cut our visit short and drove to Makoshika State Park.  The landscape here was incredible.  Pictures cannot really capture the depth and vastness of the area.  We meandered up and down a steep and winding cliff road – good preparation for mountain roads coming later in this journey.

A view like this was one of the main reasons for taking this trip out West.  The kids were in awe of their surroundings.  The visitor center is small but the exhibits explaining the formation of these “Badlands” are very interesting and informative.  This area of the U.S. was actually once under the ocean.

We left Glendive and drove toward our final destination.  When we arrived in Miles City, but it was still early in the evening.  A change in time zones had provided us with an extra hour of daylight.  Dad was loving The Big Sky of Montana and really not looking forward to the KOA in Miles City, so he suggested that we keep driving to the next major city, Billings.  The kids did not want to be in the car anymore, but Dad overruled them.  Driving the extra few hours at night rather than in the morning was going to make the next day much easier.  Dad decided we could make it even further, so we continued on to Bozeman.

We blasted through the next 300 miles of incredible Montana scenery in 4 hours thanks to the 75 MPH speed limits.  The only problem was that we did not have a reservation for the evening.  Dad assured everyone that there is never a town that has absolutely no rooms available.  He was right by exactly ONE room.  During the drive between Billings and Bozeman, we called about twelve hotels, and some of the hotel personnel actually laughed when they were asked if they had any rooms available.  It turns out that Bozeman, Montana, and its suburbs fill up with Yellowstone visitors every night, even though they are over 55 miles away from the entrance to the park.

As we finally pulled into town, the kids tearfully asked if we were going to have to sleep in the van.  They had reached their breaking point.  We drove by The Best Western Yellowstone Inn and decided to check availability even though we had already called twice about vacancies.  We are truly blessed because they had one room available that they were discounting 40% off because the A/C was not working.  Needless to say, we took it.  The joke was on them because when we got to the room, the A/C was working.  We found much needed sanctuary, and promised the kids that we would not keep them in the van that long at one time again.  We will just remind them if  it happens again that you just have to remain flexible on long road trips.


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