News Release

Theodore Roosevelt National Park to Begin Phased Access May 9, 2020

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Date: May 9, 2020
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Medora, North Dakota – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Public Health Service, and the North Dakota Department of Health, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is resuming visitor access for recreational day use of trails, picnic areas, roads and backcountry camping. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and is using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning May 9th, 2020 Theodore Roosevelt National Park will resume access for:


  • All trails and trailheads within park boundaries
  • All roads in the North and South Unit (except South Unit road failure road)
  • Limited restroom facilities
  • Picnic areas
  • Backcountry camping
  • The Elkhorn Ranch Unit

Staff will be available by phone (701) 623-4466 or by email to provide information and direct visitors to non-congested areas during periods of high visitation.

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

  • North Unit Visitor Contact Station
  • South Unit Visitor Center
  • Painted Canyon Visitor Center and Rest Area
  • All established campgrounds

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and communities continue to be the park’s highest priority. At Theodore Roosevelt National Park, our operational approach will be to examine and continuously monitor each facility function and service to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers. While the listed open areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will be phased and visitor services will be limited. The Superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Wendy Ross, encourages visitors to recreate responsibly. The public should follow local area health orders regarding the wearing of masks, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities. “The Theodore Roosevelt National Park staff and I are pleased to welcome visitors back. We appreciate the public’s support as we provide phased visitor access and basic services. I am inspired by American’s desire to recreate and seek solace during a period of national crisis. The public’s renewed appreciation for our public lands is a bright spot in an otherwise dark time. Our parks have become beacons of hope, healing and recovery. We look forward to increasing services and facility access as staffing and guidelines allow.”

Many recreational locations at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, such as trail heads and parking areas, can become very crowded and make social distancing difficult. To maintain North Dakota Department Health and CDC social distancing guidelines in the park, it is important to disperse visitor use to a variety of locations and times. Park rangers are available for trip planning to assist people in visiting less congested areas of the park, where social distancing is easier. If after recreational activities resume, social distancing guidelines are not able to be met at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, some recreational activities may be temporarily limited until health guidelines can again be met.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

The NPS encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools available to explore on the park website The public can also find operational information and updates on social media platforms and the park website ( about nation-wide NPS coronavirus operations will be posted on

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Last updated: July 17, 2020

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 7
Medora, ND 58645


701 623-4466

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