Greetings from Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Our national parks always reveal something wondrously unexpected. On a warm August morning in 2015, my wife and I were hiking across the prairie on Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s Upper Talkington Trail. It was the last day of a five-day trip to the park. It was our first visit, and we’d already seen a great variety of wildlife: bison, wild horses, pronghorn, prairie dogs, a porcupine, a great horned owl, a horned lizard, and three different kinds of snakes, to name just a few. Earlier in the week, we’d spotted a prairie rattlesnake warming itself on the asphalt of the park loop road at night. That sighting was from the safety of the car, but on our last-day hike, we had a much closer encounter. My wife was in the lead on the trail when she heard a quick rattle, and a beautiful prairie rattler zoomed across the path in front of her and into the tall grass on the other side of the trail. We retreated some distance and I captured this photo – a wonderful reminder of an incredible trip.


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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