Greetings from Theodore Roosevelt National Park

I lost my fiancé and my mother two weeks apart. Two years later, I drove West for a wedding, to help a friend, and to meet some new friends. I grew up in Illinois. I have always liked the mountains, but the Rockies seemed to swallow me up. I have always liked wooded areas, but I felt claustrophobic in the forests of western Oregon; there were too many trees, not enough space between them. There are many areas in Illinois that are flat and featureless, but they don’t compare to the Great Plains that dominate Montana. I didn’t expect to find the Theodore Roosevelt National Park smack in the middle of the road I was driving. I didn’t expect to find it at all, since I didn’t know it existed. I should have guessed that it would; the man who spent so much time and energy creating the National Park System would certainly have a bit of nature named after him somewhere. I didn’t expect the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but I couldn’t have picked a better place to spend my day. The cliffs overlooking the Little Missouri river, the susurrus of the wind through the dry grasses, Wind Canyon where the ever-present wind has carved away rock. I did not expect to have an experience so thrilling and calming simultaneously. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a study in contradictions; a fitting tribute to the man who worked so hard to start the National Park system to keep wild places wild, and was himself both Rough Rider and Teddy Bear.


Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Long before Theodore Roosevelt became America’s 26th president, he spent years as a rancher in the rugged lands preserved by this national park. 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 plants and wildlife. The two main areas of the park make up the North Unit, near Watford City, and the South Unit, in Medora. The smallest, best-preserved, and hardest-to-reach part of the park is the Elkhorn Ranch unit, preserving the spot where Roosevelt’s former ranch once stood, 35 miles north of Medora on the bank of the Little Missouri River.

State(s): North Dakota

Established: 1947

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