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Topic: Teddy Roosevelt National Park -- water?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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MeganP Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 13 2012, 3:52 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi all,

Planning to backpack a few nights in Teddy Roosevelt National Park the last week of this month. We're thinking about backpacking the northern unit, along the Little Missouri River. I've read online that the river water isn't drinkable, that you have to bring in all that you need, or cache it in jugs where the trail crosses the road.

Does anyone know if this is true?

Any other pointers to offer about backpacking in the park?

Thanks!

Megan
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TravisNWood Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 13 2012, 6:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

According to the National Park Service, regarding the North Unit, under Safety Messages on the page linked:
    "There are no approved drinking water sources in the backcountry. There are springs and wells, which supply water for wildlife, but none are certified safe for human consumption. Plan to carry in all your drinking and cooking water."
You will find a similar warning for Badlands National Park. But the circumstances are even more dire in the Badlands.

I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming in country similar to both parks. And the larger seasonal stream running though our 23,000 acres was appropriately named "Alkali Creek." I'm not so familiar with the North Unit, but as I've understood in similar places, you can try to filter the water, but it may gum up your filter. And you can boil or disinfect by a variety of methods. However, none of those methods will rid the water of the contaminants that make the water unfit for human consumption — especially as your staple water supply for all day or consecutive days.

I know that that is disappointing, to employ an understatement. But I would not recommend disregarding the caution or you may find yourselves sickened and the trip ended prematurely. If my information is not quite complete, I'd suggest you call the visitor center for the North Unit. Just hope you do not get a seasonal employee that may not understand any better.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has one advantage over the Badlands. There is no flowing water in the Badlands. But if there is flowing water in the Little Missouri, and the trail is near enough to it, I'd plan on using that water to cool yourselves off often. That way, the less you sweat the less water you waste and the less you are likely to find yourselves dehydrated by trying to save the water you carry. Especially when it is hot out or you start to sweat, do drink water and, frankly, if it were me, I'd be using the Little Missouri to cool off as often as possible and necessary.

Disclaimer: I've never been to that actual park, but I speak from ample experience from similar areas. Best to contact the Park directly and speak to someone, ie ranger, who knows.


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 14 2012, 12:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

To be more specific on surface water in the North Unit, I found the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Water Resources Management Plan (a PDF download, see pages 40-43). Though human activities have contributed to the water problem, the real problem is the soil through which water runoff collects sediment including salts and metals.

So, in effect, the water is not just muddy or silty, but "natural contaminants" are of a chemical nature that cannot be reliably filtered out. The soil is simply too rich in things like salts and metals. This is actually a problem rather native to the soils of the Upper Great Plains states, including where I grew up and in Badlands and T. Roosevelt National Parks.

A salient quotation:
    Table 6 summarizes the results of the National Park Service (1997) study based on existing database retrievals. Eight parameters (turbidity, total coliform, fecal coliform, total sulfate, beryllium, copper, lead, and zinc) exceeded their standard more than 20 percent of the time. Of the 678 miles of North Dakota's rivers with elevated levels of toxins, 306 miles were from the Little Missouri River (North Dakota Department of Health and Consolidated Laboratories 1993). The presence of turbidity, sulfate and several metals which exceed criteria is likely explained by runoff from soils and deposits associated with the surficial geology of the Little Missouri River basin (North Dakota Department of Health 1996). Agricultural practices, petroleum exploration, and extraction activities in the area exacerbate the problem. However, the data are limited, and water quality problems should be further defied by more detailed study before final conclusions are drawn (Ell 1998).  


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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 14 2012, 4:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I did the north unit and would stash and carry as much water as you can. There is a spring that is considered the first over night stop. No promise it will be running.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 20 2012, 4:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have been to TRNP (South Unit) a couple of times and you absolutely can not drink the water inside the park.  The Little Missouri is not OK.
If Travis says don't drink it, then don't drink it. 
I love this park (I have posted about this before) but I recommend caching water. On my first trip I didn't listen to the rangers suggestions on caching and suffered.
I have only visited TRNP in May and saw lots of wildlife.  Look forward to your comments about an August trip.

PS: At least in the South Unit ..if it rains the [top soil] turns into something akin to dirty 10w-30.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 25 2013, 5:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Bump for Peeb.

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peeb Search for posts by this member.
Let's see who's been naughty, and who's been naughty!
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 25 2013, 6:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank you Travis!! :)

Depending on what we decide to do, we may do a basecamp somplace.  I'll be sure to report on how we end up handling things.


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It's all so simple when you break it down scientifically - Nick Bakay
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 06 2013, 9:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Re: TRNP - the park itself is still protected, but the region around it has turned into....oil country....the development is everywhere and the flare stacks burn day and night.  Costs are up, quality of life is .....changed.....roads are busted up by big trucks.  I went to North Unit for Labor Day weekend.  Inside the park was fine except that the road was closed (now open) beyond the campground.

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"Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe"  author unknown
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