Driving U.S. 85

Dakotas, 250 miles

Jun 30, 2009
Outside Magazine
Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park    Photo: courtesy of National Park Service

To say that there's absolutely nothing along the stretch of asphalt between Spearfish, South Dakota, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, is an overstatement—but not much of one. The prairie views are broken up only by the occasional antelope herd, busted railroad town, and steakhouse. But for the most part, this is the Great Plains as Lewis and Clark experienced it—endless grasslands and distant buttes that pass by at a crawl, even at 80 miles an hour. The payoff for all that lonesomeness is, at the end of the road, the geologically manic North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. PIT STOPS: Try the Pastime Club and Steakhouse, in Marmarth, North Dakota, for the best ribeye in the state (701-279-9843). When you reach the North Unit, hike the 18-mile Achenbach Trail, which winds through the water-scoured, red and blue Badlands.

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