Theodore Roosevelt National Park - North Dakota
On August 1, 2022 we arrived in the Medora RV Park in Medora ND. The RV Park is close to the small downtown and only one mile to the entrance of the South Unit of the National Park.
This National Park is a tribute to the president who helped start America's conservation movement. Teddy Roosevelt credited his time in the North Dakota badlands as having helped him recover after his mother and wife died only hours apart. “I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota,” a quote from the former president.
Per NPS ~ "The South Unit lies along Interstate 94, adjacent to the tiny gateway town of Medora (just 112 full-time residents), and serves as the main recreational focus for most visitors, with its scenic driving loop and two dozen trails. The North Unit lies 70 miles away (an 80-minute drive), and while it has services such as a visitor center and a road through the badlands, it receives far fewer visitors. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit — the homesite of Teddy's Roosevelt 1880s cattle ranch — lies in between. It has no services, and most visitors make it a quick stop. Visiting them all is manageable over two or three days."
What are "Badlands"? Basically a crazy looking terrain that is not good for farming, raising livestock or building. The Lakota people dubbed this region “mako sica,” or “bad lands,” long ago because of its rocky terrain, lack of water and extreme temps.
We spent two days in the South Unit of the park. The first day we drove the Scenic Loop which was not a loop at the time due to a road collapse. We were stopped by a large herd of bison but then drove along and visited all of the scenic viewpoints. The park is home to bison, feral horses, elk, deer. pronghorn, and prairie dogs.
On day two we drove to the north west corner of the South Unit. There are two separate sections here that contain concentrations of petrified tree stumps. We hiked the both the North and South Petrified Forest Trails. Each is a 3 mile round trip from the parking lot.
This was the 25th national park we visited during our year and a half full time RV adventure. The park was beautiful and had its own personality for sure. Of course, the wild horses were the best part.