From Miles City we had a choice of two routes to Medora ND and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The first, the shorter of the two options, was I-94. The other was US-12 to Bowman ND, then north on US-85 to I-94 where we'd have to backtrack to the west a few miles before arriving in Medora. Any guesses what we chose?
Once again, US-12 didn't disappoint. We went through Plevina MT and Baker MT before crossing the ND border. The next town was Marmarth... the largest city in Slope County North Dakota. By the looks of things, the population of Marmarth has declined further since the 2010 count of 136 people... and this is the largest community in the entire county. Didn't see a soul out as we passed through, and the few commercial buildings looked abandoned and boarded up.
After turning north on US-85 we passed through Amidon, the county seat of Slope County. Notable for being the third least populous county seat in the nation, the 2010 census counted 20 people who claim they live in Amidon. This is my kind of country.
Because it was getting close to one of the big 4th of July weekends (the 4th being on Wednesday this year means we'll have camping pressure on both ends) we made a beeline through the main gate at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and 5 miles into the Park to Cottonwood Campground. A missed turn by the driver (your's truly) resulted in our having to unhook the toad and execute a U-turn (the first time we've had to unhook before arriving at our destination in our 5 years on the road), but we turned that into a plus in that Dar could go ahead, drive through the campground and snag one of the few spots we might shoe-horn into. That's exactly what we did... and got one of the last campsites that would work. Like most NPs, it's all drycamping (no hookups), but the solitude and feel of being in nature is a fair trade-off. The price is $10 per night. We'll be here until at least Sunday... or maybe November.
Of note... I walked down the camp road to pay for our stay and encountered a couple horses blocking my path. They were two of the hundreds of wild (ferral) horses that roam free in the park. We exchanged eye contact, I offerred a few spoken words to which they seemed indifferent (I've gotten used to this over the years), and, after that brief encounter, we all went on about our business.