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Theodore Roosevelt is one of my favorite national parks and perhaps the most underrated national park in the entire US National Parks system. I visited the park as part of my 2009 North American road trip.
Located in the Western North Dakota Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt was named after the US President who spent time in North Dakota and owned a ranch on what is today the park.
The reason I found Theodore Roosevelt such a great park is the abundance and proximity of the wildlife. From my car, I was able to easily see bison, wild horses, mule deer, and prairie dogs. Even in Yellowstone, I wasn’t able to see so much, so close. Also, because the park is primarily grasslands, nothing is hidden in trees.
The park is located along Interstate 94 and is divided into northern and southern sections on either side of the road. It takes a while to drive to the park from wherever you are coming from, but it is well worth the effort. Someday I’d like to visit the park in the winter to photograph the bison, horses, and deer in the snow.
Things to Do
A visit to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park wouldn’t be complete without partaking in many fun tourist and recreational activities. First and foremost, there are three main units that make up the park and you can explore each one. The South Unit is where you will find the Scenic Loop Drive. This 36-mile drive will give you a chance to enjoy scenic views and wildlife. There are also opportunities for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.
The next unit is the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. This is where you will find the so-called “home ranch” in the Badlands. However, the foundation stones are the only remnants of the said building. You can access this part of the park via a 35-mile drive over gravel roads. When driving here, a high clearance vehicle is recommended.
Finally, there is the North Unit. Its visitor center is located at the park entrance. In this part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, you will find a number of hiking trails and self-guided nature trails. You can get brochures for these trails at the visitor center.