Theodore Roosevelt National Park


The 70,000-acre Theodore Roosevelt National Park was named to honor President Roosevelt's visionary conservation efforts, his love of nature, and his key role in efforts to establish a national park system. Roosevelt had been sickly as a child, and as a young man he was dedicated to challenging himself and to building his physical health and strength. He spent a great deal of time in the badlands building his own ranch, Elkhorn, in the 1880s.Although the desolate area surrounding Theodore Roosevelt National Park is named "the badlands," the name belies the large variety of plants and animals that call this place of open grasslands and barren rock home. In spring, acres of colorful wildflowers cover the prairie and more than 180 species of songbirds fill the air with their voices. Mule deer graze on the open plains with elk, bison herds, and wild horses, while whitetail deer find refuge in the woodlands. Feisty prairie dogs build their underground network of dens beneath the grasslands. Rattlesnakes and other reptiles may also be seen. Multicolored corrugated cliffs and domes add an austere beauty to the landscape, and nature shows its awesome power here on occasion with violent storms and high winds that can build very quickly. What to see and do: Theodore Roosevelt National Park is divided into three units: North, South, and Elkhorn Ranch site. The Elkhorn Ranch was Roosevelt's second home in the badlands. The North Unit is considered to be the more rugged and isolated. Its vibrant colors and lush vegetation receive fewer visitors, especially off-season. If you only have one day to spend at the North Unit, stop by the visitors center (open 9 AM to 5:30 PM CT) to pick up maps and guide books or chat with a ranger about how best to plan your visit. A 14-mile scenic drive starts at the center, leads west into the park, and takes you past the Longhorn Pullout and the Buckhorn Trail Loop where you can get out and hike. Other trailheads along this route include Little Mo Nature Trail, Caprock Coulee Nature Trail, and Achenbach Trail, where you'll see the Little Missouri River, dry gulches, prairie dog towns, and river woodlands. Most visitors head to the South Unit. Its Painted Canyon Visitor Center (open April through November) sits just off I-94 and seven miles east of Medora gives visitors a spectacular view of the surrounding area with its rolling hills and colors. Head into Medora to the South Unit Visitor Center, which is open daily (except winter holidays) from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, with extended summer hours. You can get oriented with a film and exhibits that focus on Theodore Roosevelt. You can tour Roosevelt's relocated Maltese Cross ranch cabin with or without a guide, as well. Ranger programs are offered mid-June through September. Get advice on the best places to spot wildlife along the 36-mile loop road that leads to several overlooks and hiking trails. You can also see historic buildings including the Peaceful Valley Ranch, which was a cattle and horse ranch during the late 1800s and now provides trails rides between May and October (701-623-4568).Cottonwood Campground in the park's South Unit and Squaw Creek Campground in the park's North Unit together offer a total of 130 sites available on a 14-day first-come, first-served basis. No showers or hookups are provided, but there are both tent and RV sites. All individual campsites are first-come, first-served. Group campgrounds are also available and require reservations. Horse camping and backcountry camping are also available. Note: Rattlesnakes and black widow spiders are common to certain areas of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, so pay attention along hiking trails. Bison do occasionally attack if provoked, so give them plenty of room, especially as the herd crosses roadways. Prairie dog bites also can be severe. Do not approach or feed them. Pets: Leashed pets are permitted but not in backcountry areas.


315 Second Ave
Medora, ND 58645


46.91621200, -103.52553400
Visit Website
(701) 623-4730

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