The entire 14 miles of the North Unit Scenic Drive in Theodore Roosevelt National Park reopens to traffic today at 9 a.m. after road slumps back in August 2011 forced closure of the last 7 miles of the drive.
"We are so pleased that we are able to reopen the North Unit Scenic Drive to the public this year," said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "The repairs have been a huge project. We encourage people to make a special trip to the North Unit this fall to enjoy the River Bend Overlook, Oxbow Overlook and wildlife before the snow flies."
Wet weather in 2011 was blamed for the damage to the scenic drive. The road from Caprock Coulee to Oxbow Overlook had been closed because a large section in the Cedar Canyon area had been slumping and sliding, causing considerable damage and making the road impassable.
Prompting the problems were the underlying bentonite soils, which tend to slip when wet. The soils were formed from volcanic ash that drifted down to earth here from volcanoes in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and elsewhere in the West.
Road repairs began this past August 11; the project was overseen by the Federal Highways Administration.
The North Unit is located 15 miles south of Watford City off Highway 85. With the entire length of the road open, you will be able to drive to a short trail leading to a rock shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. From the shelter you have a beautiful view of Oxbow Bend in the Little Missouri River and out across the badlands.