Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North Dakota, United States North America icon North America

Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the western side of North Dakota. The park covers an area of 110.07 square miles (285.08 sq km) and is the only one named directly after a person.

The national park is comprised of three separate portions of land which include the North Unit, South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit.  The South Unit is the largest of the three.

The Little Missouri River is a key feature of the terrain as it meanders through the badlands of all three sections of the park. The badlands and their unique characteristics are the pinnacle attraction of the park.

The ecosystem of the badlands provides a habitat for a variety of wildlife species.  The larger popular species include bison, cougar, bighorn sheep, elk, coyote, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. There are over 185 species of birds that complement the wildlife of the park.

Theodore Roosevelt Highlights

Bison and badlands are the epitomai of the national park’s experience.  The badlands add rich character to the terrain where the buffalo roam.


The badlands represent a unique dry terrain that is characterized by sedimentary rocks and clay soils that have been significantly eroded and carved out by wind and water.

The eroded rock formations of the badlands can display the characteristics of buttes, canyons, gullies, hoodoos, and ravines. The sedimentary rock and rich clay vary in colors from the more commonly displayed shades of red to darker tans, browns, and even black.

The hoodoo characteristics are quite different than those seen in Bryce Canyon National Park. The territory is probably more renowned in the southern neighbor of Badlands National Park.


Although bison are popular in Yellowstone National Park, they are one of the highlight attractions of the badlands area. The American Bison is the species that populate the area.

Bison are massive ungulates and often called buffalo in the United States and Canada. Wood Buffalo National Park is another place that is common for seeing the wood bison.

Bison can reach lengths of 11.6 feet (3.5 m) with heights reaching as much as 6 feet 1 inch (186 cm).  These massive wildlife tanks can reach weights as high as 2,599 pounds (1,179 kg).  Bison are a highlight of the park, but they are wild and should not be approached in any way.

Trails of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

There are over 200 miles (321 km) of hiking trails spread across the three different Units of the larger park.

Wind Canyon Trail: This is a short half-mile (0.8 km) trail that walks to a lookout over the river and terrain.

Caprock Coulee Loop Trail: This is a 4.4-mile (7.08 km) loop trail with 583 feet (177.7 km) elevation gain.  There are chances to see wildlife and wildflowers.  The highlight of the trail is the views of the badland terrain.  This is one of the most popular trails in the park.

Boicourt Overlook Trail: This is a short 0.8-mile (1.29 km) trail out and back that offers panoramic views out over the badlands.  This is a popular trail because of the easy access and stunning views.

Painted Canyon Nature Trail: This is a short 1-mile (1.6 km) loop trail that meanders along the painted canyon.  There are chances of seeing wildlife while enjoying the scenic views.

Petrified Forest Trail: This is a moderate rated loop trail that has 833 feet (253.99 m) of elevation gain. The trail circles around some of the badland terrain with chances of see wildlife as well as petrified remnants.

Theodore Roosevelt Highlights

  • Badlands
  • Bison


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