This video is a brief introduction to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Theodore Roosevelt's relationship with the North Dakota badlands strongly influenced his life and politics. Today, Theodore Roosevelt National Park provides visitors with much the same opportunities Roosevelt cherished.
- Credit / Author:
- National Park Service
Theodore Roosevelt National Park astounds, delights, and often surprises the 475,000 people who visit here each year. The park, established in 1947, preserves over 70,000 acres of extraordinary badlands scenery, healthy and visible wildlife populations, native mixed-grass prairie, and the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt.
Theodore Roosevelt first came to the badlands of Dakota Territory to hunt bison, but he fell in love with the rugged country. He invested in two ranches: the Maltese Cross and the Elkhorn. Roosevelt held ranching interests in the area from 1883 until 1889 [Correction: 1898].
After the death of his wife and mother on Valentine's Day, 1884, Roosevelt was devastated. He decided to leave his life in New York behind and live as a rancher in Dakota. Eventually, his time in the badlands gave him the strength to return to his life, his family, and his politics.
Today, the colorful North Dakota badlands provide a scenic backdrop to a place that memorializes our 26th president for his enduring contributions to the conservation of our nation's resources.
In all seasons, visitors enjoy panoramic vistas and a sense of solitude, inspiration, and timelessness similar to Theodore Roosevelt's experience in the 1880s. The park is a great place for scenic driving, wildlife watching, birding, camping, hiking, and wilderness backpacking. In summer, a concessionaire provides guided horseback rides.
The Little Missouri River has shaped the land that is home to prairie plants and animals including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. Small herds of feral horses and longhorn steers represent the historic scene as living history exhibits.
Ongoing geological activities create spectactular examples of badlands terrain, and provide opportunities to see erosional processes in action.
The park contains one of the few islands of designated wilderness in the Northern Great Plains and one of the largest petrified forests in the United States.
The South Unit, near the fun and diverse gateway town of Medora, has a 36-mile loop drive that is open most of the year. Roosevelt's Maltese Cross Cabin is open for tours behind the visitor center. Seven miles east of Medora, the Painted Canyon Overlook shows a stunning badlands panorama.
The North Unit, 15 miles south of Watford City, provides a scenic drive, solitude, wilderness experiences, and rugged scenery.
The smaller Elkhorn Ranch Unit, between the North and South Units along the west bank of the Little Missouri River, provides visitors the opportunity to experience the place that Theodore Roosevelt chose as his badlands home.
The North Dakota badlands inspired Theodore Roosevelt. Perhaps Theodore Roosevelt National Park will inspire you.