The Elkhorn Ranch Unit preserves the place Roosevelt selected to be his "home ranch" after the deaths of his wife and mother. This unit of the park has a special, solemn character. There are no visitor centers, facilities, or scenic roads. (But driving to the unit is quite scenic!)
A 0.7 mile mowed pathway leads from the parking area to the cabin site. Exhibits feature passages written by Roosevelt about his experiences at the ranch. Only the cabin's foundation stones remain, but there, beneath rustling cottonwood leaves, visitors can sense the peace and solace Roosevelt found at this special place in the badlands.
Learn more about the Elkhorn Ranch, or continue reading to find out how to get here.
Elkhorn Ranch Unit
How to Get There
Roosevelt chose the location of his Elkhorn Ranch largely because of its remoteness. Today, though you no longer need a horse to get there (but hey, there's an idea!), you'll still be traveling in a very remote area on unpaved roads. The last three miles of the route sometimes require 4-wheel drive and/or a high-clearance vehicle, especially in winter or during and after rain showers. Inquire about current road conditions at park visitor centers before you embark. There is no cell phone signal at the Elkhorn Ranch or along much of the route to this remote unit of the park.
Driving from the North Unit to the Elkhorn Ranch Unit
- Take US 85 north (left). Travel 13.8 miles to Watford City.
- Turn left at the light to stay on US 85. Travel 16.5 more miles on US 85.
- Turn left onto ND-68 W. Travel 16.7 miles.
- Turn left onto ND-16 S. Travel 31.4 miles.
- Turn left on Black Tail Road/FH 2 (gravel).
- Travel 12.2 miles.
- Turn right on Bell Lake Road (still FH 2).
- Travel 3 miles.
- Staying on FH2, turn left towards the USFS Elkhorn Campground. Follow FH2 for 3 miles, continuing past the campground and MDHT trailhead to the Elkhorn Ranch Unit parking area.
Driving from the South Unit to the Elkhorn Ranch Unit
- Take I-94 westbound to exit 10.
- At the end of the exit ramp, turn right on County Road 11 (gravel). Follow County Road 11 for 8.8 miles.
- Turn right on Westerheim Road. Follow Westerheim road for 6.5 miles.
- Turn left on Bell Lake Road. Follow Bell Lake Road for 11.7 miles.
- Turn right onto FH2 towards the USFS Elkhorn Campground. Follow FH2 for 3 miles, continuing past the campground and MDHT trailhead to the Elkhorn Ranch Unit parking area.
Last updated: March 12, 2019