Theodore Roosevelt Nat. ParkNorth Dakota 

The land that created a President.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Park honoring the most conservationist President.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) is an approximately 70,000 acre park composed of three separate sections of the Badlands that memorializes the 26th President of the United States and his commitment to preserve the nation’s natural resources. The New York TImes declared it one of 52 Places to Go in 2016.

The park is known for its wildlife viewing, including prairie dogs, pronghorn, bison, and elk. It is also popular for horseback riding and back country hiking. The best time to visit is in the summer – services are limited from October to May and portions of the park road may close in winter.

North Unit: The 14 mile Scenic Drive (28 mile roundtrip) starts at the North Unit Visitor Center and (at least to start) follows the Little Missouri River. The River Bend Overlook offers scenic views from a 1930s Civilian COnservation Corps shelter. The Caprock Coulee Trail (1.5 miles west of Juniper Campground) is a popular 1.6 mile roundtrip trail through dry water gulches and coulees (a valley or drainage zone). The last scenic overlook is the Oxbow Overlook which looks down on the winding Little Missouri River through the Badlands.

Elkhorn Ranch Unit: A remote and serene 218 acre section of land once used by Theodore Roosevelt near the Little Missouri River is also part of the park. It was one of two ranches established by Roosevelt in western North Dakota. The foundation of the cabin that stood at the site remains as well as the water well. Other than the dismantled ranch, much of the ocountryside remains the same as it did during the late 19th Century when enjoyed by Roosevelt.

South Unit: Medora is the small town at the entrance of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s South Unit. It serves as the gateway to a 36 mile Scenic Loop Drive through the South Unit. The Painted Canyon Visitor Center is located 7 miles east of Medora on I-94. It provides visitors an overlook for the Badlands and a canyon. Near the visitor center is the relocated Maltese Cross Ranch, which was built during the winter of 1883-84 at the request of Roosevelt. On your journey, you’ll pass 12 trailheads for soem of the parks 95 miles of hiking trails


After Theodore Roosevelt’s death in 1919, there were a number of proposals for a park or memorial to honor him.  Through the Resettlement Act in the 1930s, the United States ended up acquiring the land for the park (and Little Missouri National Grasslands) from homesteaders.  The land was designated the Roosevelt Recreation Demonstration Area, although the federal government at the time wanted the land to become a state park.  In 1946, the lenad was turned over to the Fish and Wildlife Service as Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge after a proposal to make it a National Park was vetoed.  A compromise was eventually reached and President Truman signed the legislation creating Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park (the South Unit and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit).  The North Unit was added in 1948.  It was the only memorial park of its kind for thirty years, when President Carter signed the legislation changing its designation to a national park in 1978.

Busiest Months (Percentage of Annual Visits)

Don’t Miss:

  • Hiking
  • Scenic Overlooks
  • Wildlife

Other Activities

South Unit Hikes

North Unit Hikes


There are catfish in the Little Missouri River but most people fishing in the area go to Lake Sakakawea to try for walleye or a trophy northern pike. Sakakawea is the third largest manmade lake in the United States and has miles of shoreline. Boats can be rented from Lund’s Landing and several other spots around the lake.

Recent Bird Sightings

Weather Forecast:


Average Temperature (Monthly)

  • Average High Temperature (°F)
  • Average Low Temperature (°F)


Camping and Lodging Options:

There are three campgrounds in the park – two in the South Unit and one in the North Unit. One of the South Unit campgrounds – the Roundup Group Horse Campground – is for camping with horses and is available by reservation only. Backcountry camping permits are available in both the North and South Unit Visitor Centers.

Juniper Campground (North Unit) and Cottonwood Campground (South Unit) are located along the Little Missouri River. Campsites can accomodate tents, trailers, recreational vehicles and groups.

For those that don’t camp, there are a few different lodging options in Medora, ND, near the entrance to the South Unit.

Campground Reservations

Cottonwood Campground
37 Sites


Juniper Campground Group Site
1 Site


Roundup Group Horse Camp
1 Site


Roundtrip Flights to Bismarck:


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