Friday Favorites: Roosevelt Elk and Other National Park Wildlife

One of my favorite parts about visiting National Parks is the opportunity to see wildlife up close in its natural habitat.

This video is of a Roosevelt Elk that blocked my path in Olympic National Park. It came right down the trail towards me and then stopped to munch right off the trail.

Probably my favorite wildlife experience was in El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico where I was driving my Jeep down a dirt road while a herd of Pronghorn Antelope ran alongside me at 40ish mph for several minutes. It was exhilarating. rk

Six things you must do in Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is one of our new favorite National Parks.   There is so much to see and do.   Having said that, here are six things you must do during a visit to Badlands NP.

1–Visit the Ben Reifel Visitor Center — I really found the Paleontology Lab here fascinating.  This National Park is loaded with fossils of prehistoric mammals and turtles and this working lab lets you watch paleontologists make scientific discoveries.

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The Ben Reifel Visitor Center

2–Hiking —  If you read this blog, then you know we like to go hiking.   There are about a dozen well marked trails near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.   Some are as short as a 1/4 mile and others as long as 10 miles.   Nearly all of them route through the black hills that this park is known for.

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Many of the shorter trails are on boardwalks.   This is the kid friendly Fossil Exhibit Trail.

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The Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

3–Camping — Hear me out here if you are not a camping savant.   This Park has two campgrounds, Cedar Pass and Sage Creek.   Cedar Pass has all the hookups and electricity etc.   I’m telling you go to Sage Creek.   This primitive campground is considered backcountry.   It does have pit toilets and picnic tables, but all that is worth it for the fabulous scenery and close encounters with bison and prairie dogs.   Plus its free.

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The Sage Creek Campground.   (Do you see the bison milling about?)

4–Look for wildlife — It is almost impossible not to see bighorn sheep, bison, and prairie dogs here.   My youngest son was excited to see a turkey vulture also.

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This bighorn sheep was just hanging around near Panorama Point

5–See the stars — If you get a clear night and a new moon then you are in stargazing heaven.

6–Stop and see the overlooks on the scenic Badlands Loop Road — The overlooks here are amazing.   You will be glad you stopped to see them.

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The White River Valley Overlook on the Badlands Loop Road

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Bigfoot Pass Overlook on the Badlands Loop Road