Sheyenne National Grasslands and Fighting Ticks

I LOVE big green trees, green grass and water. Heading West means appreciating an entirely different landscape – one of wide open space, brown grass with craggly cottonwoods.

On our way to Billings (to visit kid #4 and granddaughter #1), we are spending five nights in North Dakota. With the installation of our new solar panels, we are able to boondock more so have been enjoying being ‘unplugged’ since we left lower Michigan. We found two wonderful places in North Dakota to extend our time in the woods.

In the SE corner of the state near Hankinson is the Sheyenne National Grasslands. There are several National Grassland areas in the West – part of the land purchases by the government in the 1930’s to bail out farmers and to get them to stop farming. I read Ken Burns book on The Dust Bowl a couple of years ago and it was informative and gripping with hundreds of pictures. Now with us exploring this area, I can see the impacts of bad farming practices and some of the multitude of solutions to correct the problems of over tilling, not rotating crops etc.

Open prairie land

Open prairie land

Follow the directions on the website for The Sheyenne National Grassland – it is less than 10 miles outside of Hankinson, but could be hard to find if you don’t follow their specific directions. The roads getting to and within the Grasslands are dirt, but in good shape. The grasslands has a campground – with an equine area and a regular camp area, each with several sites with a grill and picnic table. There are vault toilets and a central water pump. Cost is $6 per night. We elected to disperse camp, which you can do for free for up to 14 days as long as you are not blocking a trailhead or road . We found a neat spot in a small stand of cottonwoods with a view out our front window of open grassland and small rolling hills. Most of the rolling hills are really dunes that formed during the dust bowl that the grasses have now grown back over.

Some of the rolling hills - previous sand dunes

Some of the rolling hills – previous sand dunes

There are many unmarked trails for horses and hikers. We were testing some different gps skills and went venturing off into the grass until we saw our legs covered with LOTS of ticks. We tried venturing off trail two different times but where thwarted by the ticks. Not sure if there is a ‘coming-out season’, but if on Jeopardy, I would say early May is the time. After that we stayed to the wider trails and the dirt roads.  Besides the ticks we saw several white tail deer, pheasants, and turkeys.

$8 tick repellentIn preparation for our travels before we started out last year, we bought special Repel Permethrin Clothing and Gear insect repellent.  Permethrin is the #1 tick repellent ingredient.  We paid a stout $8 for a spray can and happily put it in the camper.  Never one to read the fine print, it would have helped to do so on this product since it is very different than the normal mosquito spray.  One can is suggested to spray two outfits and you should do it in advance – not right before you start hiking.  We were able to see the ticks on our pant legs (always wear light colors) and were able to pick them off.  I think the product probably helped to keep some off us or to keep the ones on us from crawling for cover as fast.

We enjoyed our two nights – very quiet since we were the only people in the area.

Different kind of pump for shared water source

Different kind of pump for shared water source

We stayed in the far left hand corner section of the grasslands

We stayed in the far lower right hand section of the grasslands

Nice wooded spot for boondocking

Nice spot for boondocking

Night view of our boondock spot

Night view of our boondock spot

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8 Responses to Sheyenne National Grasslands and Fighting Ticks

  1. Oshin says:

    Informative posting and one I read with insrteet, especially the links to the forestry service and Bureau of land management.I would offer a note of caution about camping too far off the beaten track or camping’ in car parks, although it is romantic to imagine yourself submersed in Nature, accidents do occur and being isolated brings with it many disadvantages. I know this to my cost as whilst camping in Scotland, my dog cut his paw on some jagged rocks and the ordeal I had to locate a vet, stressful. Imagine how much worse that could of been if it was me, I doubt my dog would have been able to carry me to the car:) So make the most of the freebees’ but park within hailing distance of someone else. Happy trails ..

    • gconthemove says:

      Great point – we always try to get the GPS coordinates and area description of where we are at just in case of an emergency, etc. There are so many things that can go wrong with us or the vehicle. Are there lots of camping locations in Scotland?

  2. Judy says:

    Never thought about getting tick spray. We treat Jezzy ( our dog) monthly for ticks, but try to be watchful about ourselves. I’ve pulled a few ticks out of my hide, and it’s creepy!

  3. Richard Lowell Behling says:

    What? No buffalo?

    Look out for chiggers too.

    • gconthemove says:

      I think chiggers are worse than ticks — so much harder to see and to get rid of. No buffalo here – you’ll see them on next post at Roosevelt National Forest.

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