In our endless quest to visit all the national parks in the United States, we recently visited the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, N. D.
Theodore Roosevelt is a well known figure on the national park scene, so it is only fitting that there is a park named after him.
There are three sections to the park: the north and south units as well as the Elkhorn Ranch unit. The north and south units are about 68 miles apart with the Elkhorn Ranch unit in between them. The Little Missouri River cuts its way from north to south through the entire park.
The south unit is easily accessible off of Interstate 94, which is where we started our visit. There is a visitor center at the south unit as well as the north unit along with one other visitor center in Painted Canyon, which is also in the south unit.
The visitor center in the south unit offers a museum with collections from Theodore Roosevelt, a small gift shop, a movie theater that shows a 17-minute film called “Refuge of the American Spirit,” as well as the Maltese Cross cabin. The film was education and inspirational, telling about the park, how it came to be, and the wildlife that takes refuge in the park.
The Maltese Cross cabin was the cabin that Teddy Roosevelt had built and lived in during his hunting and ranching adventures in North Dakota. The cabin was sold to a couple different owners over the years, eventually being acquired by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It was ultimately moved to the park in 1959 where it was restored to its original state. Today you can tour the cabin and see how Roosevelt lived.
The other thing the visitor center offers is the Junior Ranger program. We love doing this with our kids as it gives them activities to do while we visit the park. They love getting sworn in as official members.
While you’re there, there are a few scenic drives that offer breath taking views and close encounters to the wildlife of the park.
We headed out on the scenic loop drive in the South unit, which is a 36-mile round trip drive. Shortly after heading out, we saw herds of bison and their young grazing along the road, with a few even walking right on the road toward us. The mass and power of these animals is so amazing.
Also along the way are several pull-outs at prairie dog towns. You can get some good looks at prairie dogs up close and see them poke their heads out of their holes. The kids loved this.
The north unit also offers a scenic 28-mile drive that is in and out.
Other things to do in the park include hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing and horseback riding.
During our drive, we stopped at a few spots to do a few short hikes. We especially liked the Wind Canyon Trail that offers a great view of the Little Missouri River and all the bison cooling off in the cool water.
Although we only did a few short hikes on our visit, the park has everything from easy to strenuous hikes ranging from under a mile to almost 20 miles in distance. To find the hike that best suits you, check out www.nps.gov/thro/planyourvisit/hiking-and-trail-information.htm.
The park also offers camping if you’re looking to stay for a night or two. The north unit has the Juniper campground and the south unit offers the Cottonwood campground. For information on these campgrounds, visit www.nps.gov/thro/planyourvisit/camping.htm.
Just outside of the park is the town of Medora. This is a very quaint “old west” kind of town with small shops and restaurants. It definitely is a cool place to explore.
For more information on the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, visit their website at www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm