Theodore Roosevelt National Park

"I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.”
-- Theodore Roosevelt

In September 1883, Theodore Roosevelt traveled from New York to the Dakota Territory. He planned to shoot a buffalo.

He discovered that most of the great bison herds were already gone—killed for their valuable hides. Roosevelt also saw the devastation caused by over-grazing, which destroyed wildlife habitats.

He purchased stakes in two cattle ranches on the Little Missouri River, and launched a lifelong conservation campaign that would eventually preserve more than 230 million acres of public land.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park was established in 1947 to commemorate the president’s dedication to preserving the country’s natural beauty. The park’s two units cover more than 70,000 acres and encompass his Elkhorn Ranch and the log cabin he built on Maltese Cross Ranch.

The Maltese Cross cabin contains period furnishings, including a hutch, rocking chair, and trunk that belonged to Roosevelt. A self-guided auto tour takes you around a scenic 36-mile loop. Drive out to Painted Canyon Visitor Center for a view of the North Dakota badlands. The North Unit also hosts a scenic driving tour and panoramic view from Oxbow Overlook.

More than 100 miles of trails wind through Theodore Roosevelt National Park. You’ll also find bison there.

NPCA at Work in the Parks

One of the biggest threats to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the rapid rate of oil and gas development in western North Dakota; fracking wells can already be seen and heard from inside the park. There are currently more than 6,000 oil wells in the region, with up to 45,000 predicted in the next two decades. In April 2013, NPCA's Center for Park Research released National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing, a report that explores the impacts of fracking on national parks and how to best safeguard the environment and public health; the report features Theodore Roosevelt National Park as one of its in-depth case studies. For more information, read our recent blog story.

View the Slideshow

Check out our slideshow with beautiful images from this park

Read More in NPCA's Park Advocate Blog

Explore the Oil and Gas Development That Threatens Theodore Roosevelt’s Backyard

Theodore Roosevelt National ParkWhen a young Theodore Roosevelt owned and operated a cattle ranch in the badlands of western North Dakota in the 1880s, the landscape was a remote wilderness. Sixty years later, when the area around his ranch was protected as part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it quickly became a destination for travelers looking for unspoiled […]

Reducing the Harmful Impacts of Oil and Gas Development Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

A fracking well outside of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.“I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” –Theodore Roosevelt Would Theodore Roosevelt still be inspired to become America’s greatest conservationist president if he experienced western North Dakota today? The land he lived on is now preserved as Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but […]

Take an Online Tour of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Featured in NPCA’s New Report on Fracking

The Missouri River at Theodore Roosevelt National ParkLong before Theodore Roosevelt became America’s 26th president, he spent years as a rancher in the rugged lands that would later become the national park that bears his name. He grew a strong attachment to the landscape, and now the park’s three distinct units cover some 70,000 acres of badlands, prairies, and forests abundant with […]


Air pollution is another serious threat to this park. The National Park Service has established the NPS air quality webcam network to show “live” digital images of more than a dozen parks. Click here to see current air conditions at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.







The Doctor

December 29, 2014

Just visited with Clara, we had a wonderful tihme! Except of course for the Zygon,but other than that, it was magnificent!


December 29, 2014

Absolutely loved the scenery! Hiking up the cliffs was amazing, I'd recommend this to anyone looking to have a fun time in the wild!

bob nhd

December 9, 2014

i am doing an nhd on Roosevelt and Ysoemite. Did he do anything about the National Park Service?


November 13, 2014

i would love to go there


May 15, 2014

my family and I are going here in June


June 15, 2013

Looking forward to coming to the park. I am interested by - and worried about - the damage caused by fracking and the oil industry. Lindsey thinks that the park is god's creation. Well, I am not sure about that, since I first want to see if s/he is doing a reasonable job protecting it. And if not we would have to take over the job ourselves!


May 14, 2013

The park is very good for taking time to reflect on God's creation! It is not very crowded like most of the parks and the animals run free including a lot of wild horses! The colors are spectacular and because it is pretty far north, it is cool enough at night to camp! The small town next to it is very hospitable. A great place!


July 17, 2012

Our family just backpacked in the north unit of the park last weekend and while it is indeed a beautiful site, we were surprised just how much haze there was. And while we loved watching the sun rise on the trail early Saturday morning, we were saddened at all the oil and gas well flares dotting the horizon. As we pumped water from the natural spring in the park, I wondered how long it would be before it is too contaminated to drink. If we are to see any reminders of energy production from national parks, let it be pollution-free wind turbines!


July 5, 2012

There is no longer any reasonable doubt that "fracking" does long-lasting, and in most cases, permanant damage to the water table. I can't believe that we (the People) allow this blight to continue at all, let alone within the borders of our Mational Parks. The parks were created for all American's use and enjoyment, yet I don't recall being consulted before they started fracking on my/our land. Something needs to be done to prevent this freeloading by greedy corporations and polititians before they ruin our National Heritage.

Curious in Miami

March 1, 2012

Wonderful park. Is NPCA involved in protecting it against effects of Bakken oil development?


November 10, 2011

We were absolutely astounded by the beauty, abundant wildlife, and interesting hikes at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Our key phrase for our visit was "Who Knew?"


November 10, 2011

We have visted this twice and were very impressed. We saw two herd a buffalo come over a hill. (How the indianas must have missed that) We also camped there and found that a herd moved through the camping area through a creek bed in the dead of night. It was delightful !

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