Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

19 to 20 July 2021

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Badlands of North Dakota

The highlight of North Dakota and one of our favorite stops this trip was Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP).  The park is actually comprised of three areas, the North Unit, South Unit and Elkhart Ranch with much of the land unreachable by car.  We entered the park at three points, the North Unit, South Unit Main Entrance and Painted Canyon Entrance.

Painted Canyon Entrance

We started at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center.  From there we took a modest hike with nice views of the colorful rock layers.

In the North Unit, we hiked a few trails, the most significant was the Caprock Coulee Trail.  It was a fantastic hike with great views but the trail is not heavily travelled, the markings are poor, and the trail has narrow sections that are overgrown.  Take a compass and pay close attention.  Bison roam freely and prairie dogs are plentiful.

The South Unit is the most popular part of TRNP.  Medora, a western-themed tourist town, sits at the park entrance.  The town’s accommodations are popular with the park visitors but we chose to stay in Dickinson, about 40 miles east, for better food and lodging options.  It too has plenty of wildlife throughout.  We hiked several of the shorter trails.  If we had more time, we might have taken one of the longer trails in the South Unit.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park does not get much press but it is well worth the visit if you ever find yourself traveling in the area.

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