Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Quick Facts

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North Dakota

(701) 623-4466

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

"I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota," Theodore Roosevelt once remarked. Roosevelt first came to the badlands in September 1883 on a hunting trip. While here he became interested in the cattle business and invested in the Maltese Cross Ranch. He returned the next year and established the Elkhorn Ranch. Whenever he managed to spend time in the badlands, he became more and more alarmed by the damage that was being done to the land and its wildlife. He witnessed the virtual destruction of some big game species, such as bison and bighorn sheep. Overgrazing destroyed the grasslands and with them the habitats for small mammals and songbirds. Conservation increasingly became one of Roosevelt's major concerns. During his Presidency, Roosevelt established the US Forest Service and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act under which he proclaimed 18 national monuments. He also established 5 national parks, 51 wildlife refuges and 150 national forests. Here in the North Dakota badlands, where many of his personal concerns first gave rise to his later environmental efforts, Roosevelt is remembered with a national park that bears his name and honors the memory of this great conservationist. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is in the colorful North Dakota badlands and is home to a variety of plants and animals, including bison, prairie dogs, and elk.

Map of Theodore Roosevelt Park

Latitude, Longitude: 47.084450, -103.475784

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Activities

  • Boating

    A float trip down the Little Missouri River is an ideal way to experience the beauty and solitude of the North Dakota Badlands. It takes about three or four days to canoe the 110 miles between Medora near the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Long X Bridge on U.S. Highway 85 near the park's North Unit.

  • Bicycling

    All roads in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are open to cyclists. The park roads follow the contours of the badlands allowing riders to enjoy the park close up. Off-road cycling is not allowed in the park. All bicycles must remain on paved or dirt roads.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Driving slowly on park roads may be one of the easiest ways to view wildlife. Watch for animals crossing the road. Deer, elk, pronghorn, and feral horses are seldom alone. If you see one animal, look for others that may follow.

  • Camping

    Juniper Campground and Cottonwood Campground accommodate tents, trailers and recreational vehicles. No hook-ups are available. Individual sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis and remain open year round.

    The Roundup Group Horse Campground, located in the South Unit, is open seasonally and can accommodate one group at a time. Groups are limited to 5 nights per calendar year.

    Anyone planning to camp overnight in the backcountry obtain a free backcountry permit. There are no established backcountry campsites.

  • Fishing

    While fishing the Little Missouri River anglers could land blue gills, carpsuckers, and catfish. On rare occasions walleye and fingerling pike are spotted. Sport fishing is limited to channel catfish, goldeyes and sauger, but the quantity and quality of these fishes is unpredictable.

  • Hiking

    The park contains 100+ miles of trails. Some are self-guided nature walks (under 1 mile) and others are longer, more strenuous hikes like the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail that passes through both the South Unit and the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

  • Horseback Riding

    The park trail system, except for developed nature trails, is open to horse use. Crosscountry horseback travel is also allowed. Visitors may bring their own horses or take rides with the park concessionaire.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic shelters and tables can be found throughout the National Park.

  • Water Sports

    Swimming is also an activity available to the public within the park.

  • Winter Sports

    The park does not groom any trails for cross-country skiing. Skiers and visitors on snow shoes must blaze their own trails through the snow. The best places to cross-country ski are on the frozen Little Missouri River and on closed park roads.

Seasonality/Weather

Park roads may be closed in winter due to snow or icy conditions. Check the current park road status and North Dakota highway status prior to your visit.

Park Partners

Peaceful Valley Ranch

Peaceful Valley Ranch offers guided horse trail rides throughout Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

(701) 623-4568

Directions

Driving

The South Unit entrance is in Medora, ND. Medora is accessible via Interstate 94 Exits 24 and 27 in North Dakota. Medora is 133 miles west of Bismarck, ND and 27 miles east of the Montana state line.

The North Unit entrance is along U.S. Highway 85, approximately 16 miles south of Watford City, ND and 50 miles north of Belfield, ND. The distance by road from Medora to the North Unit is approximately 70 miles. I-94 travelers can access U.S. Highway 85 at Exit 42 in Belfield, ND.

The Elkhorn Ranch Unit is located 35 miles north of Medora. Access to the site is via gravel roads. Approaching the site from the east requires fording the Little Missouri River. Ask a ranger at one of the park visitor centers for information on traveling to the Elkhorn Ranch Site before you attempt the journey.

Flying

Air service is available into the western North Dakota towns of Bismarck, Dickinson and Williston.

Public Transportation

Bus transportation via Rimrock Inc. is available along I-94. The bus stops in Medora, three blocks from the park's South Unit entrance.

There is no public bus transportation along Highway 85 and to the North Unit.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(701) 623-4466

Links