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Hoeven: Painted Canyon Overlook to stay open through October

Visitors of the scenic Painted Canyon, a popular North Dakota tourist attraction, look out into the Badlands in this undated image.

The Painted Canyon Overlook will now be open and available until November.

A one-month extension of the operating hours for the scenic rest area off Interstate 94 just east of Medora was made possible through a donation from the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, according to a release sent out Tuesday from the office for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

"We are grateful that the community has come together and found a way to keep the Painted Canyon Overlook open longer," Hoeven said in a statement. "We appreciate the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation for securing the additional funding to ensure that the public can enjoy the beauty of our Badlands for an additional month. The canyon is truly one of our state's greatest tourist attractions."

Because of budget concerns caused by the so-called federal sequestration earlier this year, Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials had announced that the overlook would not be open for its regular hours of operation this summer. Hoeven, however, initiated a working group that included local and state leaders in an attempt to keep the canyon open following the announcement.

Open since late May, the canyon -- along with the rest of TRNP -- has been busy due to the summer travel season and the lure of the lush green Badlands landscape after a spring that witnessed a record amount of rainfall in many parts of western North Dakota.

"We're very excited to have the Painted Canyon Overlook open until November," said TRNP Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "We're very thankful to the foundation for securing the funds. The park is amazingly green and that has attracted people. It's very beautiful and we've had a lot of visitors so far this summer and we expect it be stay that way throughout the remainder of the summer."

Located seven miles east of Medora, Painted Canyon features a visitor's center that is staffed by park employees from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the summer. Along with offering scenic views of the Badlands, Painted Canyon is considered a gateway to the park's South Unit and to Medora's many attractions, including the "Medora Musical."

"I appreciate the efforts of all parties involved in extending the season at Painted Canyon Overlook," said Medora Mayor Doug Ellison. "It is often the first exposure travelers have to Medora, so it is an important link to our business community."

The working group put together earlier this year included Naylor, Ellison, the North Dakota Tourism Division, Highway Patrol, Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau and Billings County Commission Chair Jim Arthuad, among others.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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