Even after I heard Teddy Roosevelt loved this land in western North Dakota so much that he bought his own ranch and returned many times, I was skeptical. If it was so great, why hadn’t I heard of it before? Of it was so beautiful, how could it be located in North Dakota? Things just didn’t add up.
After visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I will never question our beloved Teddy again.
Ironically, the President whose conservation legacy is honored in the park and protected more land than any other shot one of the last bison during his first hunting trip in the future park. They were reintroduced a few decades ago and now the herd is thriving. Roosevelt also bought a ranch and invested in cattle that mostly starved in a few years as the area was chronically overgrazed. These experiences helped Roosevelt realize his growing country was rapidly reaching the limitations of the seemingly endless natural resources. So throughout his time in office he fought to protect the nation’s land. Many parks in the NPS owe their protection to the inspiration TRNP gave Roosevelt.
Another splash of irony is the interstate that runs through the South Unit of the park. This means the South Unit is much more visited. However, we preferred the quieter, grander North Unit with its dramatic badlands cliffs, sweeping river valley and curious cannonball concretions. Either way you can’t go wrong.
Check out our Theodore Roosevelt National Park video to see the gorgeous hidden gem of North Dakota that seriously exceeded our expectations.
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