From Bismark, we moved up to the North unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Not really on the Lewis and Clark trail, but close enough that we will see some L&C sites.
Imagine our surprise when we pulled into Juniper campground and there was a small herd of buffalo in the middle of the campground loop. Apparently they come running when they hear the grass being mowed.
We had a great time at our afternoon get-together watching them eating the cut grass.
The group seemed to be mostly mothers and babies.
There was a long line for the ladies room.
The next evening we drove the park road to the western end, and saw this group of buffalo. It's a miracle that we still have them anywhere.
In the mid-nineteenth century, 60-100 MILLION buffalo roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. That number was reduced to a FEW HUNDRED by the mid-1880s! Today, there are about 250,000, both in the wild and on ranches, in North America. There are 350-400 here in Teddy Roosevelt NP.
We went on the the end of the road to this overlook of the Little Missouri River, hoping the buffalo would be closer when we returned.
And they were! Wow, this is close!
Max happened by and took this picture of me taking pictures with my camera hanging out the window.
So how did the buffalo recover from near-extinction? A few individuals raised them on their private ranches. Then in 1902, a herd of 41 captive and wild buffalo was placed under government protection in Yellowstone National Park. Theodore Roosevelt was the president then and a renowned conservationist. For that reason, he is the only person ever to have a US National Park named for him.
P.S. I just read an amazing true story about a mommy and baby buffalo in Yellowstone on a fellow blogger's blog. You can read it here. See if you can do it with dry eyes. (Don't worry - it has a happy ending.)