Theodore Roosevelt National Park
"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.
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.
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.
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.