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7 Causes to Plan a Journey to Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park

Since Theodore Roosevelt was the pioneer of the Nationwide Parks, you actually would count on this gem in North Dakota to be on each Nationwide Park Service fan’s bucket listing. But surprisingly, it isn’t even within the prime 10 listing of most-visited Nationwide Parks. However I’m right here to promote you on why Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park ought to be in your must-visit listing.

We spent two nights in Medora, simply exterior of Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park, on our mother-daughter midwest highway journey. Between the charming city and the gorgeous park, I fell in love. Just like our love affair with White Sands Nationwide Monument earlier.

Earlier than I let you know why we beloved it a lot, let me offer you slightly overview of the park and surrounding space.

About Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park

Badlands hills

Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park is in Western North Dakota, about two hours from Bismark and 4 hours from Speedy Metropolis, South Dakota. Due to its extra distant location, not as many individuals go to Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park, which suggests those that do go to don’t have to deal with the crowds and tour buses discovered at a number of the extra fashionable parks.

Nonetheless, it’s doable to mix a visit to the park with a go to to South Dakota’s Black Hills and Mount Rushmore or a North Dakota highway journey.

The park is known as after President Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty sixth President of the USA, who attributed the time he spent in North Dakota within the late 1800s looking bison for him later turning into President. You may go to the Maltese Cross Cabin, the place younger Roosevelt resided throughout his time in North Dakota. 

As President, he later went on to create 5 new nationwide parks and signed the Antiquities Act that enabled him and presidents to this present day to proclaim nationwide monuments.

Previous to days of early settlers, the lands in and across the park and rugged North Dakota badlands had been inhabited by native peoples together with the Mandan and Hidatsa, whose conventional bison looking grounds included the Little Missouri River basin. Different teams that utilized the badlands embrace the Crow, Blackfeet, Cree, Sioux, and Lakota peoples. These lands had been used for eagle trapping, bison looking, and different non secular functions.

Visiting Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park

The Park itself is on the fringe of the Nationwide Grasslands, the place the prairie meets the Badlands of North Dakota. Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park is damaged into three items, the North Unit, Elkhorn Ranch Unit, and the most-popular South Unit. These items are divided by the Little Missouri River and it’s 68 miles between the North Unit park entrance and the South Unit of the park. Due to this fact if you wish to cowl each items, you want a minimal of two days within the park.

Each the North and South Unit provide customer facilities, however services all through the park are pretty restricted. You’ll want to pack a picnic, convey plenty of water, and use the toilet when you’ll be able to as you gained’t discover flush bathrooms within the park. Winter hours on the North Unit customer heart range, and the Painted Canyon Customer Middle within the South Unit is simply open Might by October, however the primary South Unit park headquarters is open yr spherical besides Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

Probably the most handy place to remain is within the city of Medora, positioned simply exterior of the South Unit entrance. Choices on the town are restricted so it’s best to e book early. You usually tend to discover campgrounds than accommodations so you should plan forward. One of the best time to go to is through the early summer season or early fall, however even through the scorching summers we discovered the park uncrowded.

You’ll need no less than a half day to go to the South Unit and drive the 48-mile scenic loop drive. Plan on a full day if you wish to do any longer back-country hikes.

7 Causes to Go to Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park

Lack of Crowds

Theodore Roosevelt National Park sign

I discussed it earlier than however the lack of crowds at Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park (TRNP) is noticeable, and we visited in late July, which ought to be prime season. In comparison with the site visitors jams you will discover in Yosemite or the issue discovering parking in Yellowstone, the shortage of crowds at TRNP is a delight.

I might advocate that you simply begin your go to within the South Unit Customer Middle and watch the movie about Teddy Roosevelt and the park’s historical past. The one “site visitors” we encountered was ready in line to enter the park because of some development they had been doing within the South Unit. Nonetheless, as soon as our aspect was let by, after the primary prairie canine city cease, there was by no means once more one other crowd.

The truth is, when climbing a number of the trails, we saved operating into the identical one or two households, and that was about it. We by no means had a problem with discovering a spot within the parking zone, encountering too many individuals on a path, individuals getting in the way in which of a pleasant image, gradual drivers, or any of these Nationwide Park frequent issues.

Wildlife Viewing

prairie dogs

Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park is superb for wildlife viewing. Within the park you will discover mule deer, bull elk, bands of feral horses, badgers, bison, and tons of prairie canine cities. The prairie canine are so cute to observe as they come out of their burrows and run round. I didn’t know fairly what to anticipate and I assumed a sighting could be uncommon and solely from a distance however wow, was I fallacious!

The prairie canine cities are proper by the highway so you’ll be able to climb out and look ahead to some time. And these critters aren’t shy! They may chirp if you happen to method, however hopefully you’ll observe park pointers and avoid wildlife. They bounce out, tussle with one another, and dart from gap to gap. It’s so entertaining chances are you’ll end up camped out for some time simply having fun with the present.

prairie dog close up

The small bands of feral horses additionally wander all through the South Unit. We noticed our first herd on the hill above the primary prairie canine city on the scenic loop. Whereas the opposite automobiles had been there, we might simply spy the swish of a tail and twitch of ears over the crest of the hill. However as the opposite automobiles moved away, the herd came visiting the hill to graze.

Wild horses

A bit later, not removed from Cottonwood Campgrounds, there was a band of horses grazing simply off the aspect of the rode. We slid to a quiet cease and rolled down our window to quietly watch them chomp on the grass and so they didn’t appear to thoughts us a bit.

Wild Horses close up

The American bison is usually a bit trickier to search out on the open prairie, however while you see the enormous poops on the highway, you realize they will’t be far. We spied a herd on a hill within the distance close to Buck Hill Path and a big herd within the valley close to the Boicourt Overlook.

Bison in valley

We even obtained an up shut view as a single bison crossed the highway proper in entrance of us close to Peaceable Valley Ranch. So they’re round if you happen to search for them!

Bison crossing the road

And whereas we didn’t see any elk within the park, I’ve heard which you could usually see them from the Buck Hill Path. We truly spied two grazing on the hillside close to the big Medora signal on the Medora Musical for a perfectly-timed photograph opp.

Medora sign with elk

Enjoyable and Straightforward Hikes

Ridgeline trail

In case you cease off on the customer heart, you’ll be able to ask the park rangers for the place to search out wildlife that day and likewise get the inside track on a number of the longer, back-country hikes. Simply remember the fact that some will contain crossing the river, which can be knee-deep, so convey applicable footwear (or a change of footwear).

What I beloved although is that there are many brief hikes, so that you don’t have to decide to a multi-hour factor. You will get viewpoints from totally different locations and stroll by quite a lot of terrain on shorter hikes. A lot of them will contain a steep portion, however for many these are comparatively brief sections.

We significantly loved the Ridgeline Nature Path, which is simply .6 miles however a few of it’s a steep climb. You’ll them stroll alongside the ridgeline of the hills to stunning views (not for these frightened of heights.)

The Buck Hill Path can be well worth the one-mile drive off the Scenic Loop. Once more, it begins with a brief climb however then you’re on comparatively flat floor. On one aspect you’ll look throughout the grasslands, and if you’re fortunate spy elk or bison. On the opposite aspect, there are stunning views of the colourful North Dakota Badlands.

Buck Hill trail

Boicourt Path is one other brief, good one, however if you’re drained, you will get principally the identical views from the Boicourt Overlook.

Scenic Drives


The North Unit contains a 14-mile scenic drive, whereas the South Unit has a 36-mile scenic drive. So even if you happen to don’t need to do any climbing, you’ll be able to spend the day driving the loop and hopping out and in of the automobile at scenic overlooks and parking areas. There are numerous locations to seize a picnic desk and revel in a scenic lunch (simply keep in mind to take all the pieces you introduced in out with you.)

Camper on road

And the great factor is that you simply don’t have to compete for house at these pullouts! The Badlands provide such an enchanting panorama that it’s thrilling to drink all of it in and attempt to seize their magnificence in a photograph.

Huge, Open Areas

Theodore Roosevelt National Park grasslands

Whenever you come from the crowded Northeast, it’s so good to be in a spot with large open areas the place you’ll be able to breathe deep and see for miles. As we had been sitting on a rock on the prime of the Buck Hill path, Hannah wished we had introduced a blanket and a few books so we might keep there for some time and simply get pleasure from being in a spot the place you’ll be able to see up to now with such nice views.

Driving by the Nice Plains, you get such an appreciation for large, open areas. After all, it’s also the one place the place I’ve been nervous about discovering a gasoline station once I had half a tank of gasoline.


Rough Riders hotel

Be aware: This submit might comprise affiliate hyperlinks. In case you click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I’ll obtain a small fee. All opinions are my very own.

I discovered the city of Medora simply exterior of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park to be completely charming. There are some western cities which have a throw again high quality, but in addition really feel slightly tacky or run down. Such as you don’t know who you would possibly encounter wandering out of the native saloon.

Medora didn’t really feel this manner in any respect. It was so quaint and genuine but in addition clear, quiet, and downright picturesque. There are two playgrounds on this city of 150 individuals. And within the city sq. yow will discover musical leisure. There are a couple of cute outlets but in addition locations to cease for ice cream, sweet, or espresso.

The meals choices are slightly restricted, and don’t anticipate finding gourmand (or dinner after 8pm.) However yow will discover a terrific muffin at Hidden Springs Java.

Lodging are additionally restricted. Nonetheless, I used to be stunned to search out that the Tough Riders Resort truly appeared fairly good. We opted to remain on the Amble Inn. We had been thrilled with the situation and really pleased with the scale of the room, rest room, and the friendliness of our hosts. It was cute and native and simply what we had hoped.

Medora Amble Inn

Discover a Place to Keep in Medora

Medora Musical

Medora Musical

In case you are staying in Medora or close by, you should attend the Medora Musical. Referred to as the “biggest present within the West,” the Medora Musical is a range present that performs nightly in the summertime. It’s a nice piece of Americana in a manner that you simply gained’t discover on Broadway or anyplace else.

Medora Musical dancers

The present takes place in an amphitheater and given the scale of the gang, I’m unsure the place all of the attendees come from. I wasn’t certain if it could really feel hokey, however wished to provide it a strive because it appeared just like the factor to do. But it surely was truly actually entertaining in a heat, old school, patriotic kind of manner.

Earlier than the present, you’ll be able to join the Pitchfork Steak Fondue. I’m unsure it was well worth the value nevertheless it was a enjoyable expertise. I imply, when else do you see a steak cooked over a fireplace utilizing an precise pitchfork? It’s a nice heat as much as the Musical as you’ll be able to get pleasure from your steak and a buffet of sides whereas listening to the nation band from the present.

Pitchfork steak fondue

Simply go, you gained’t remorse it!

So there are my seven explanation why you need to go to Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park. I actually hope you go to Theodore Roosevelt Nationwide Park and fall in love with it as a lot as we did!


If you are planning a National Parks road trip or family summer vacation, find out why you should put Theodore Roosevelt National Park on your National Park Service bucket list. Find out things to do in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where to stay near the park, and where to see wildlife.










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