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TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

Binghamton, New York
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TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

Hi, I looked at the TripAdvisor forum of Badlands NP and people there definitely seem to favor Badlands over TRNP - but then I saw an Yelp review saying that TRNP and Badlands NP are very different and how happy she was to have visited TRNP. But then another review said TRNP and Badlands are not all that different. Who's telling the truth? Is it worth visiting both?

I'm looking into the visit this summer 2013 - my son may be going to a residential camp in MN so I am thinking why not do a road trip of the area - (although, I'm aware that these areas of ND and SD are both 10 hours away from where I pick him up -)

We are interested in wildlife- bisons and prairie dogs - can you see them better at TRNP than at Badlands? Some hiking with great views - interesting geological features - local histories of settlers and indigenous people - etc.

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Jamestown, North...
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1. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

I grew up about 30 minutes away from TRNP, so we visited the area often. I never went through the park without at least seeing bison and prairie dogs. Often we would see mule deer, antelope, and sometimes we would see the wild horses, just ot name some of the wildlife. I love the beauty of the TRNP area, especially the south unit. The scoria and coal veins create a contrasting landscape that I still go back to see.

I have hiked several of the trails such as Wind Canyon, Painted Canyon. There are many to choose from including the nearly 100 mile long Maah Daah Hey (which I've never been that athletic, but I've heard good things from people who are). Medora has several sites and shows dedicated to the history of the area.

This is all located right off of I-94. Getting to or from Minnesota is pretty easy. On the way there are many other places to stop. Bismarck had the Capitol Building, the Heritage Center, and several stops from the Lewis and Clark trail are nearby. Jamestown has white buffalo. Valley City has Medicine Wheel Park. There are several smaller museums all along the way focusing on early settlers. Fort Abraham Lincoln, Fort Ransom, and Fort Seward would provide another perspective of early life.

Good luck with your travel plans!

Binghamton, New York
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2. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

Thank you for the information - sounds like North Dakota is full of interesting attractions. What's the primary difference between North and South unit? Which campground do you recommend? Does campground have shower & bathrooms? I read that Badlands campground is pretty spartan ....

North Dakota
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3. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

I suggest visiting both. Both units are gorgeous with rugged buttes, hills, canyons and their fair share of wildlife. In the North Unit you are most often looking down into the canyons and valleys. In the South Unit you are most often looking up. The town of Medora, which is the gateway to the South Unit, offers entertainment, like the Medora Musical, museums, etc.

Some prefer the campgrounds within the national park that are primitive and very scenic. They have vault toilets but no shower facilities. Some prefer having more amenities and choose campgrounds outside of the national park, around Medora.

To find campgrounds, go to www.NDtourism.com.

North Dakota
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4. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

I like the less touristy and, I think, more colorful TRNP. Also dependent on where in MN the camp is, it might make more sense to waste less time as to whether I94 or I90 are closest.

Binghamton, New York
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5. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

It's in St. Paul .... so I90 to Badlands is closer ... but I just got really intrigued by some of the great reviews I read about TRNP .....

It's truly difficult to choose! I wish I could check out everywhere ....

NorthDakotatourism, that you told me about North Unit and South Unit are truly useful! Thanks very much!

In another thread, I've read that there are fracking going on right outside of North Unit, and the traffic is bad, but how bad is fracking near around the National Park?

North Dakota
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6. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

Better traffic than St Paul. And I94 runs straight through St Paul so traveling to TRNP is easy. With the oil activity it just means you should plan ahead since many hotels are booked. The DOT is working to get the road bigger that goes right to the east of the park. You just need to plan ahead that there will be truck traffic. But its not worse than St Paul and totally not as bad as truck traffic in Chicago. I used to drive the road east of the park from I94 up to Watford City and see may 7 cars going the other direction. Now you see pretty consistent traffic if you use that road. It is a matter of relativity. I think the parks have had more visitors too and part of that is the influx of new workers into the state. But if you hike or even take drives within the park, I think you can still find solitude.

Binghamton, New York
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7. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

I see, interesting - the increase in the number of tourists due to the drilling. I think what I am going to do is to wait until the summer and see how the weather situation unfolds .. if it floods the campgrounds at TRNP, then I will go down South Dakota probably (although I wonder how much difference will there be between North and South Dakota floods) ...... if the weather is good, I'm going to check out TRNP ...

North Dakota
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8. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

Our water flows south through that part of ND (believe it or not in other parts it flows North), though most dump into the Missouri River. If its a ton of snow in the hills in SD, they will get it. I am afraid our weather is one thing you simply cannot predict. Heck a few years ago it snowed in June out west here. Didn't stick and wasn't a bunch but still it snowed in June! And then there's been Junes where its been in the 90's quiet a few days.

Victoria, Canada
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9. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

I was just told by two completely different folks (a park ranger and a campground owner) in South Dakota that due to the influx of oil/gas workers working on frakking in the area, that campsites in the TDNP area are hard to come by, and that there is a lot of heavy truck traffic.

True or false...?

North Dakota
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10. Re: TRNP or Badlands NP? Help me decide

I've heard that rumor as well, but have confirmed with The Theodore Roosevelt National Park that that is not the case. It is probably true for alot of the private campgrounds in the area. But the national park has time limits on the number of nights you can stay consecutively, to help insure that the sites remain available for visitors/tourists rather than extended stay workers. It states: During the period from May 1st through September 30th, camping is limited to a total of 14 days in either one visit or the accumulation of separate visits. Camping is limited to a total of 30 days in a calendar year. You shouldn't have a problem finding a spot in the national park.

If you have questions regarding this, I suggest contacting them at: 701-623-4730.

ND Tourism Division

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