Wild Mustangs of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

I have been greatly blessed to have had the opportunity to travel and those of you who know me know that I have a passion for photography. From this point in my life and as long as I have the capacity to do so, I will post blogs containing photos and information concerning aspects of various trips, wildlife and other topics. It is a means to share the experience with others and I hope that in doing so, you can share in the experience.

Geneva and I visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park in August, 2019. The park is not frequently visited as it is located in sparsely populated North Dakota. The park has a southern section about a four hour drive from Keystone, SD and the Mount Rushmore National Monument. There is also a north unit that is about 68 miles from Keystone. There are numerous hotels in Medora, ND which is where the entrance to the southern unit is.

The primary road makes a 28 mile loop through the park's major features. At the time this blog is being written, the last 4 miles of the road was closed for repair. The winters and monsoon rains are rough on the roads. In fact even on the interstates and Dakota roads, repairs are massive and ongoing. One of the things I had hoped to see was one of the several bands of wild mustangs that inhabit the park as we traveled the road.

The first evening we two both bands of mustangs from a distance - about half a mile - in different areas of the park. Buffalo, pronghorn antelope, a coyote, and deer were seen in close proximity as we drove. There was also an abundance of prairie dogs, located in three expansive "cities".

On the second evening, one band of mustangs was hard to miss as you can see below. They blocked the road and gave folks a good opportunity to watch them pose for about 15 minutes. They were not alarmed by the cars at all. There were ten horses in the group.

The mustangs were beautiful and healthy-looking.

A few mustangs were quite curious and I believe had grow accustomed to having folks hand them treats, in spite of regulations discouraging the act.

Later in the evening, we came into close proximity to the second herd. It included about a dozen horses as well. Four of the mustangs are pictured below.

After watching them for a while, we headed back toward our hotel. Unexpectedly, we saw the other herd with several members on top of a hill.

As the horses descended, they came across a bull buffalo who was ascending at the same time. I suppose that is a bit unusual. The bull maintained a threatening posture and the horses kept a respectable distance. Once the bull passed the horses, they continued down the hill. The following shot shows that moment.

The path which is clearly used by buffalo and horses is deep and well worn from perhaps hundreds of years of use.

The photo below shows some of the vegetation the horses forage on. They eat as they travel and typically do not hurry.

As we prepared to continue on to our hotel, a mother watched us as her colt nursed.

If the truth be told, viewing the mustangs was the highlight of our day. We had hoped to see them, but to see them close up and as they traveled was a special treat that many visiting the park never have the opportunity to see.

I hope that you enjoyed reading about the mustangs and seeing the photos. Please feel free to leave comments as I enjoy reading them. If you know any horse lovers, please share the blog with them. Happy Trails!

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