Minnesota cycling part 3: Driving back

After finishing our bike ride across Minnesota in Fargo, North Dakota (see previous post), we packed everything back up in the car and set out to drive home on Wednesday the 23rd. We drove most of the way across North Dakota, and camped south of Medora in Sully Creek State Park, which had a very nice hot shower and provided a peaceful night’s sleep (and the chance to dry out our tent from the rainy start that morning).

Thursday morning, we got up early, packed up, and spent a few hours in Theordore Roosevelt National Park, where we did a few short hikes and drove the scenic loop to see some beautiful scenery with fall colors just starting on the trees, bison (buffalo), wild horses, prairie dogs, lots of birds, and deer.

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

bird, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Zach and a prairie bird at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

prairie dog poking head out of burrow

Yet another very cute prairie dog

We then continued on to Montana, where we stopped at Makoshika State Park, home of dinosaur fossils and more beautiful badlands country.

Dinosaur fossil at Makoshika State Park, Montana

Dinosaur fossil at Makoshika State Park, Montana

Natural bridge at Makoshika State Park, Montana

Natural bridge at Makoshika State Park, Montana

After Makoshika, we made a short stop at Pompey’s Pillar National Monument, where William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition had stopped on his way down the Yellowstone River to carve his name into the soft sandstone rock. Apparently, the Lewis and Clark expedition did a lot of name carving during their expedition, but mostly on trees, so this is the only sample that survives.

William Clark's signature in sandstone, Pompey's Pillar National Monumnet

William Clark’s signature in sandstone, Pompey’s Pillar National Monument

Looking at the clock when we had finished climbing the stairs up to the top of Pompey’s Pillar (they must have been very handy for Clark!), Zach realized if we drove with minimal stops, we could probably reach our house before midnight, and there wasn’t anything else we wanted to see on the way, so we did so. We saw a few more pronghorns in Montana, before it got dark, and arrived safely right around midnight. So… that’s it… until the next adventure!

Summary of the driving portion of the trip: We drove almost 3000 miles, visited 6 places managed by the National Park Service (including National Monuments and Memorials), visited one place managed by the National Forest Service, visited one state park, and saw a lot of beautiful views and wildlife.

Jennifer still has 6 states left to visit: Hawaii (planned for November 2015), Alaska, Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. Zach has 5 states left to visit: Alaska, Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Any ideas for what adventures can be had in those remaining states?

Map (note: not exact). The green marker shows the beginning of the route. If you click on other markers, you will see a note or information about that spot.

Approximate elevation profile (markers correspond to markers on the map):

Elevation Profile


  1. Molly Chambers
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing! :-)

  2. Posted September 28, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Complaint: No photos of Jennifer. Next time?

  3. Jennifer
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Zach wasn’t into taking pictures on this trip. So it goes.

  4. geoff
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    If you make it to Oahu hike the Haiku Stairs. Yeah, it’s officially “closed” but just climb before the guard gets there and you’re good. He’ll high-five you when you come down. http://www.unrealhawaii.com/2010/05/haiku-stairs/