This Is the National Park Where Josh Duhamel Finds Inspiration

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is full of fascinating history, spectacular colors and fun things to do

North Dakota native and actor Josh Duhamel can’t keep it a secret: Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an inspiring place. He still loves returning to 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 from millions of years ago. Keep your camera ready when you visit, because every direction you turn looks like a picture. Click here for even more about Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

WHAT YOU'LL SEE

“Badlands” can be found in many places and are generally bland in color. But the North Dakota Badlands are unique with multi-colored layers of clay, sandstone, red “scoria” rock and black coal veins. The spectrum is filled out with accents of silver sage, green junipers and poplar trees, bronze prairie grasses and a wide variety of wildflowers and blooming cacti.

The spectacular colors of the landscape give new meaning to “Badlands.” 

The park is home to a variety of wildlife. Herds of bison roam amid vast prairie dog towns. Whitetail 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.

A herd of bison is a sight that can stop traffic – especially when they are standing on the road. 

Without the crowds, here you can step right out to the scenic overlooks, stretch your arms wide in the breeze and imagine you are 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.

Visitors enjoy scenic overlooks and great views of wildlife. 

SOUTH UNIT

The South Unit is the largest and most visited. It features a 36-mile scenic drive loop 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.

Wind Canyon is one of the most photographed views in the park. 

NORTH UNIT

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.

The park’s unique geology includes formations of sandstone carved by wind and water.

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 – was Roosevelt’s North Dakota home (and the scene of the boat theft!). Today the building cornerstones and the same natural beauty remain.

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