Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a United States National Park comprising three separated areas of badlands in western North Dakota. The park was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The Little Missouri River flows through all three units of the park. The Maah Daah Hey Trail connects all three units. Both main units of the park have scenic drives, approximately 100 miles of foot and horse trails, wildlife viewing, and opportunities for back country hiking and camping. Eli and I took a drive through this park with my brother, sister-in-law, cousin and her son. It was the late afternoon so they sun was falling towards the horizon, and everything had a beautiful orange glow covering it.
One of the most popular attractions is wildlife viewing. The park is home to a wide variety of Great Plains wildlife including bison, mountain lion, feral horses, elk, bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer and mule deer, prairie dogs, and at least 186 species of birds including golden eagles, sharp-tailed grouse, and wild turkeys. Bison may be dangerous and visitors are advised to view them from a distance. Bison, elk, and bighorn sheep have been successfully reintroduced to the park. The scenery in the park changes constantly in relationship with the seasons. The brown, dormant grass dominates from late summer through the winter, but explodes into green color in the early summer along with hundreds of species of flowering plants. Winter can be a beautiful scene as snow covers the sharp terrain of the badlands and locks the park into what Theodore Roosevelt called “an abode of iron desolation.”
The town of Medora, at the entrance to the south unit, provides a touristy western experience, with wooden planked sidewalks, old fashioned ice cream parlors, and buggy rides. There are several museums and the Burning Hills Amphitheather with nightly productions of the “Medora Musical” from early June to early September.
We were back in Medora just after sunset, and since this was our last evening together we decided to go out for dinner. We had been wanting to take a drive through the National Park the whole time that Elijah and I were in North Dakota, but with all of the family coming to town, the wedding preparations, and other festivities going on, we almost didn’t have the opportunity to go. I’m glad that we squeezed this in on our last day together.