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Short Ranch, East River Road and Magpie

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 10 am CT - Sunday, July 30, 2017, 3 pm CT

This outing should be a one of a kind opportunity.  Don’t miss it!

Please, note that we have made changes in the earlier itinerary due to circumstance and the ongoing high temperatures in western North Dakota.

Saturday, July 29

Start time:  10 am CT / 9 am MT - SHARP

We will meet up at the Chimney Park parking lot at the west end of beautiful downtown Medora and on the east side of the river.

It is highly advisable that you reserve a camp site prior to our meet up and before heading out for the day.  The Park campground fills quickly and all reservable sites are taken.  You may also want to consider Sully Creek State Park just five miles south of Medora:  A number of reservable sites are still available there.  Either place, first-come-first-served sites open up in the morning and you can claim one for your own by leaving a non-valuable item on the table and posting your pay-stub.

Our first stop is Camel Hump Lake at the Sentinel Butte exit off I-94 approximately 20 minutes west of Medora.  Here we will rendezvous with a Short Family member to head north into the Badlands - our destination the three alternative routes for Billings County’s proposed bridge crossing of the Little Missouri State Scenic River.  All three, including the “preferred alternative,” cross the rough terrain and river bottoms of this historic Badlands ranch.  This will be uncharted territory for many.

Options open to group discussion

We may spend much of the day with our Short Family tour guide exploring the ranch; but if there is time, the 218-acre Elkhorn Ranch Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the north and Twin Buttes Suitable for Wilderness to the south both beckon.  We’ll play it by ear and go with group wishes.  Depends on your heart’s calling and how well we have stocked up on water and snacks for the day so be generous in your planning!

Back in Medora

While evening will be free time, don’t miss the golden “animal hour,” a perfect time to drive the Park scenic road.  Or, there’s the nightly ranger presentation at the campground amphitheater.  The Little Missouri is so low this year it is an easy and beautiful stroll, as long as you have tough feet or some footwear you’re willing to get wet.

Whether a night owl or an early bird, you can expect to enjoy the Delta Auariid meteor shower, which will be at its height.  A waxing crescent moon won’t greatly hamper viewing and it sets around midnight if you want the full effect.

Sunday, July 30

Taking time for a hearty breakfast and to break camp, our next touch point is Mikes Creek along East River Road north of the Park, and shortly beyond we will see the Short Ranch from the east side of the river and note where the proposed bridge routes come out.  Sage brush flats in this area are beautiful and the fragrance heavenly.

Oil and gas development is increasing in the vicinity and we will do some investigative exploration on private conservation property.  Our discussion will include the potential for large scale planning in this area.

Our final destination will take us east on Blacktail Road to connect with Magpie Road and the USFS Magpie Campground where we are tentatively scheduled to meet with USFS personnel having firsthand experience on the Magpie Fire.  Wildfires are scary and destructive, but they also bring ecological benefits to the landscape.  The Magpie Fire was exacerbated by drought in western North Dakota.  If all works as anticipated, we will hear of pros & cons and the story of fire crews that battled it.

Participants are responsible for their own gear, food and beverages.  Bring binocs, cameras, sun and insect protection, field guides and clothing for changing weather – whatever keeps you happy.  Camp chairs are a good option.  Sturdy foot gear (hiking boots) is not only a recommendation but a MUST.

Bring family and friends. We will be seeing both country and conditions not always open or existing in the Badlands.

Circumstance, weather and timing will all impact our exact time table and itinerary so be prepared to be flexible!  RSVPs to Jan at are especially important if you plan to attend!

A sensory experience: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Join us!