Be Inspired in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is full of fascinating history, spectacular colors and fun things to do
We all need something to look forward to again. And nothing is more exciting than planning your visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Get ready to make some memories, explore the uncrowded, untamed beauty of this national treasure named for the conservationist president who once ranched there. What makes Theodore Roosevelt National Park so special? Unique sights, sounds, history and adventure have combined to make an amazing national park without waiting lines.
The park’s three units are set in the Badlands canyons of western North Dakota — remnants of a vast, prehistoric inland sea millions of years ago. Keep your camera ready when you visit because every direction you turn looks like a picture.
WHAT YOU'LL SEE
Unlike those found elsewhere, the North Dakota Badlands are unique with multi-colored layers of clay, sandstone, red “scoria” rock and black coal veins. Senses delight with sounds and smells of silver sage, green junipers and poplar trees, bronze prairie grasses and a wide variety of wildflowers and blooming cacti.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife. Herds of bison roam amid vast prairie dog towns. White-tailed deer populate the river bottoms, while mule deer claim the highlands. In the park’s South Unit, look among the junipers on the hillsides for elk, and scan the plateaus for wild horses running free. In the North Unit, keep your eyes open and looking upward for bighorn sheep.
Without the crowds, here you can step right out to the scenic overlooks, stretch your arms wide in the breeze and imagine soaring like the eagles overhead. The hiking trails never feel like rush hour – popular, but with plenty of breathing room. Trailhead parking lots have cars and RVs like any national park – but they also have a parking space for you.
The South Unit is the largest and most visited. It features a 24-mile scenic drive with spectacular views of the Little Missouri River. Favorite views of the park are found at Painted Canyon (accessible from Interstate 94), Buck Hill and Wind Canyon. You can also visit Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin by the interpretive center.
While visiting the South Unit, take in the Old West town of Medora. Enjoy the Broadway-style Medora Musical under a starry night sky, feast on the Pitchfork Steak Fondue, play the nationally-acclaimed Bully Pulpit Golf Course and visit the 26-room “hunting lodge” of the town’s founder, the Marquis de Morès, a French nobleman who once challenged Roosevelt to a duel. Find comfortable accommodations in Medora or the nearby city of Dickinson.
The North Unit near Watford City features a 14-mile scenic byway culminating at Oxbow Overlook. It’s a breathtaking view of a riverbend around which Roosevelt chased two thieves who stole his boat. These days, the river makes for a wonderful kayak trip all the way from the South Unit.
Take time to marvel at formations like cannonball concretions — smooth, round boulders often perched on slowly-eroding pedestals. At the park’s entrance, you can also see a herd of longhorn steers like those of the old west cattle drives down the Long X Trail, which passed through here.
Near the North Unit, visit Watford City. Here you’ll find new hotels and excellent dining like Stonehome Brewing Company or Outlaws’ Bar and Grill. Learn more of the region’s history at the Long X Trading Post Visitor Center.
ELKHORN RANCH UNIT
The Elkhorn Ranch Unit – midway between the two main units along the Little Missouri River – was Roosevelt’s North Dakota home (and the scene of the boat theft). Today, the building cornerstones and the same natural beauty remain.
North Dakota offers safe and worry-free travel for the whole family. Get inspired, start planning and book your trip to a national park that feels like no other. Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park.