Nothing too special today, other than I’m really enjoying using a new, fairly inexpensive (everything’s relative) telephoto lens for wildlife photography. I’d made the popular “circle tour” north of Fort Robinson State Park out into the Oglala National Grasslands last week, with some of the gumbo roads (see below) still showing the impact of melting snow.
The “unofficial circle tour” is popular with northern Panhandle visitors throughout much of the year and the many attractions include wildlife photography, rock hunting (where legal*) hiking, biking, and numerous other outdoor activities. Actual sites include: Fort Robinson State Park, the Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Site, Toadstool Geological Park, Hat Creek and the Montrose Church, Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area (especially good for bird watchers) and then back into Harrison.
Check at the Fort Robinson visitor’s information booth for road directions as well as road conditions. Travel on the best of Dawes and Sioux County’s “all weather roads” can be a learning experience — “how can we be stuck here in the middle of the road on a flat spot”.
*Rock hunting on the U. S. Forest Service pastures on the Oglala National Grassland is permitted, with restrictions on the amount of rock, including petrified wood, fairburn and other agates as well as other rock. The best map of the Oglala National Grasslands as well as rock hunting information is available at the U. S. F. S. office on North Main Street in Chadron.
Road closures enacted over the last several years are also in effect and the Forest Service provides a detailed road map and travel brochure to aid grassland visitors.