Frequently Asked Questions

General Park Info

When and why was Theodore Roosevelt National Park established?
Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park was established in 1947 in honor of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt's experiences in the badlands were influential in his conservation efforts as President of the United States later in life. The park's designation was changed to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1978. More on Park History.

How big is Theodore Roosevelt National Park?
The park's total acreage is 70,466.89 acres. See detailed information on Park Acreage.


Planning Your Visit

Where is Theodore Roosevelt National Park and how do I get there?
The park consists of three units in western North Dakota. See Directions.

When is the park open? Does the park ever close?
The park is open 24 hours a day, year-round. See Operating Hours & Seasons for more information.

How much does it cost to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park?
See Fees and Reservations for details.

Where can I drive in the park? Do the roads ever close?
The South Unit and North Unit have scenic drives. See the park map. Park roads may close as winter conditions warrant. Check current status of park roads.

How long does it take to drive the park road?
The South Unit's 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive takes a minimum of 90 minutes to complete in a standard automobile. The North Unit's scenic road takes a minimum of 60 minutes to complete to Oxbow Overlook and back.

Are pets allowed?
Yes, with restrictions. Be aware that pets, especially dogs, can upset park wildlife and create a dangerous situation. See Pets for specific information.

What is the weather and climate like?
North Dakota experiences warm summers with highs in the 80s and 90s, and cold winters with lows often dipping well below zero. See Weather for climate and links to current weather conditions. Also check the park Webcam for a current image of the park.

Can I bring my firearm to Theodore Roosevelt National Park?
Refer to Firearms and Other Weapons for information regarding firearms in the park.


Things To Do

Where can I hike?
There are nearly 100 miles of trails in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Hiking trails are shown on the Park Map. See Hiking for more information. There are also a number of short, self-guided nature walks in the park.

Can I camp in the backcountry?
Yes. See Backcountry Camping

Can I canoe or kayak the Little Missouri River through the park?
Yes. The Little Missouri River is typically quite shallow, and May and June are the best months to run the river. See Canoeing and Kayaking for detailed information.

Where can I ride my bicycle?
Park roads are open to bicycles. Off-road bicycling, including on hiking trails, is prohibited. See Bicycling.

Can I bring my horse to the park?
Yes, the park is open for private horse use. See Horse Use.



Where can I camp?
The Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit and the Juniper Campground in the North Unit are open year-round for camping. The Roundup Group Horse Camp is a limited-availability group site for horse users. See Campgrounds for more information. Backpackers can also obtain backcountry camping permits.

Are there RV hookups in the campgrounds?
No, hookups are not provided in the park campgrounds. Water fill stations are provided at the Cottonwood and Juniper Campgrounds. A dump station is located at the Juniper Campground.

Where can I camp with my horses?
The Roundup Group Horse Camp is the only campground in the park open for horse users. Availability is limited and done by reservation. See Roundup Group Horse Camp for more information. Backcountry users may also camp with horses while backcountry camping.



What kinds of wildlife can I see in the park?
The park's grassland, woodland, and riparian ecosystems support a wide variety of Great Plains mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Visitors may encounter bison, feral horses, elk, mule deer, white-tail deer, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and nearly 200 species of birds. For more information see Animals and Wildlife Viewing.

Are bison dangerous?
Bison may be generally passive, but they can become agitated and charge without warning. View bison from a distance of at least 100 yards/meters, and from within your car, if possible. Pet owners should be especially cautious: dogs upset bison and may provoke an attack. Learn more about the park's Bison.

Are there rattlesnakes in the park?
The prairie rattlesnake, a venomous snake, is present and active in the park during the warmer months (approximately April to September). Be cautious while hiking and do not put your hands or feet in places you cannot see to avoid being bitten. If you hear a rattle, freeze where you are, locate the origin of the sound, and back away slowly. Do not attempt to capture or kill any snakes; all wildlife is protected in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. More on park Reptiles.



Why was Theodore Roosevelt here?
Theodore Roosevelt came to the North Dakota Badlands in 1883 on a bison hunting trip. He fell in love with the area and invested in two cattle ranching operations that he continued to be involved in until the late-1880s. More on Theodore Roosevelt.

Are there any buildings at the Elkhorn Ranch Site?
No. After the ranch was abandoned, other ranchers and homesteaders salvaged parts of the Elkhorn's cabin and other buildings for use at their own sites. Foundation stones are all that remain at this important site. More on the Elkhorn Ranch.

Is this the original location of the Maltese Cross Cabin?
The Maltese Cross Cabin, positioned at the South Unit Visitor Center, was originally located about seven miles south of Medora. More on the Maltese Cross Cabin.

Did everything in the Maltese Cross Cabin belong to Theodore Roosevelt?
A few of the items in the cabin are known to have belonged to Roosevelt: the hutch in the dining room, the writing desk, a trunk with his initials, and probably one of the rocking chairs. The other items in the cabin represent typical furnishings that would have been found in homes in the Dakota Territory in the 1880s. More on the Maltese Cross Cabin.

When is the Maltese Cross Cabin open for viewing?
The Maltese Cross Cabin is open year-round for viewing. Park Rangers offer Guided Tours of the cabin during the summer months and the cabin is open for self-guided tours the rest of the year.


Geology and Paleontology

How did the badlands form?
See Geologic Formations.

Are there fossils in the park?
Yes, the park contains petrified wood and fossils from a swampy environment of the Paleocene epoch, the period immediately following the end of the age of dinosaurs. Collecting fossils, rocks, or petrified wood is prohibited in the park. More on Fossils.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 7
Medora, ND 58645


(701) 623-4466

Contact Us