Located in the breathtaking west-central region of North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a state treasure and one of the most magnificent national parks in the northern United States. The park's history is interwoven with the past of the youngest man to ever take the United States presidency and one who worked vigorously to serve the people of his country. As such a celebrated figure born in New York City, he lived in the spotlight for much of his life and often reflected on the peace and serenity he felt during his North Dakota vacation.
Eighteen years before taking office, in 1883, Roosevelt began visiting the North Dakota Badlands, initially for hunting trips. Diverse and abundant wildlife and the captivating landscape drew him into a love that would last his lifetime. Keen on spending more time in North Dakota, Roosevelt purchased two cattle ranches in the state, one called Elkhorn and the other Maltese Cross, also known as Chimney Butte Ranch. The sites of both of these cabins are now the two most visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park attractions.
The peaceful time Roosevelt spent on his ranches helped reflect on his politics, life, and philosophies. He said he would never have become president were it not for his time in North Dakota. Maltese Cross, one of the main Theodore Roosevelt National Park attractions, was his initial North Dakota home. His love of nature, which he attributed to his life in North Dakota, led him to be one of the nation’s best conservationists. Travelers taking vacations to Theodore Roosevelt National Park will see firsthand the beauty and calmness the president spoke of so affectionately.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is also home to Elkhorn Ranch. The ranch sits in a serene location on the tranquil Little Missouri River between the north and south park sections. Set in the vast and colorful North Dakota Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park attractions are in every which direction you look, from the gentle rolling hills merging into vibrant, rocky layers revealing millions of years gone by, to the fiery reds and oranges splashed throughout the landscape. The beauty of the Badlands is enchanting, and the stark panoramas are photogenic and mesmerizing. Vacations to Theodore Roosevelt National Park illustrate the raw and real scenery North Dakota is famous for.
There are plenty of things to do throughout the park. Scenic Loop Drive is a 36-mile round trip with numerous signs explaining natural and historical features. Stops at both ranch sites are top highlights, and visitors can see some of Roosevelt's belongings at Maltese Cross. A visit to Painted Canyon Visitor Center offers unrivaled views of the North Dakota Badlands. The seemingly endless list of outdoor activities includes cycling, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, self-guided and guided tours, and fishing. Visitors on vacations to Theodore Roosevelt National Park should note that camping is available in the park at three separate, well-equipped campgrounds.
In the winter months there are still many available activities for visitors to enjoy. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are two of the best outdoor adventures to try, revealing the unique allure the winter season brings to the Badlands. Three visitor centers offer great exhibits and artifacts to peruse and many nearby attractions present more opportunities for a fulfilling vacation. Anyone interested in nature and history shouldn't miss the opportunity to explore even part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The incredible diversity in exciting things to do, coupled with staggering scenery is enough to complete any North Dakota tours.