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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - BEST Places to Picnic

PO Box 7
Medora, ND 58645

Visitor Information - South Unit Visitor Center
(701) 623-4730 ext. 3417
Visitor Information - North Unit Visitor Center
(701) 842-2333

WELCOME to Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt first came to the badlands on a hunting trip in September 1883. He was enchanted by the landscape and its wildlife. TR invested in two cattle ranches, the Maltese Cross and the Elkhorn. The experience was influential on his life, philosophy, and politics. "I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota," he said.

Maltese Cross Cabin

Built during the winter of 1883-84, the Maltese Cross Cabin was Theodore Roosevelt's first home in Dakota Territory. Guided tours of TR's cabin are scheduled daily mid-June through Labor Day. It is open for self-guided viewing the rest of the year.

Theodore Roosevelt as an 1880s Rancher

When twenty-four-year-old Theodore Roosevelt stepped off the train in Dakota Territory in September 1883, he brought with him a keen sense of adventure and wonderment. Today, the park provides an opportunity to learn about an environment and way of life that helped shape Theodore Roosevelt's attitudes and philosophy regarding conservation.

The Badlands Of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The colorful Little Missouri River Badlands provides the scenic backdrop to the park which memorializes the 26th president for his enduring contributions to the conservation of our nation's resources.


The Little Missouri River has shaped the land that is home to a variety of prairie plants and animals including bison, elk and feral (wild) horses.

South Unit
A major feature of the South Unit is the paved, 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive with pullouts and interpretive signs that explain some of the park's historical and natural features. A detailed "Road Log Guide" is available for sale at park visitor centers or online at the TRNHA bookstore.

The South Unit Visitor Center is located at the park entrance in Medora. It has an information desk, museum, movie, and offers opportunities to learn more about Theodore Roosevelt and his experience in the badlands. Roosevelt's Maltese Cross Cabin is located next to the visitor center. The visitor center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

The South Unit offers a number of outdoor activities such as hiking and camping in addition to guided ranger programs.

Elkhorn Ranch Unit
The Elkhorn Ranch Unit, the location of Roosevelt's "home ranch" in the badlands, is located 35 miles north of the South Unit Visitor Center. The ranch buildings no longer exist but interpretive panels give insight to the area using Roosevelt's own words. Ask at one of the visitor centers for access information before attempting to drive to the site. Learn more about the Elkhorn Ranch and its history.

North Unit
The North Unit is located near Watford City. From Interstate 94, take US 85 North at Belfield (Exit 42) and continue approximately 50 miles to the park entrance.

The North Unit Visitor Center is located at the park entrance and has an information desk, movie, and exhibits. The staff can provide information about road and trail conditions and park activities. Also see Ranger Programs. The visitor center is open daily April to mid-October and Friday, Saturday and Sunday the rest of the year. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Take time to drive the 14-mile Scenic Drive that leads from the entrance station to the Oxbow Overlook, with turnouts and interpretive signs along the way. As you travel along the drive, you will pass a number of hiking trails. Some are self-guiding nature trails that have interpretive brochures to help you learn more about the park. A "Road Log Guide" is available for sale at the park visitor center and on line at the TRNHA Bookstore.

Places to Picnic

  • Cottonwood
  • Group Camp
  • Medora Overlook
  • Painted Canyon Visitor Center

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