Theodore Roosevelt National Park-North Dakota
To be completely honest, after being blown away by The Badlands in South Dakota I really didn’t have high expectations for the section of The Badlands to the North in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, less than 5 hours away. Boy, was I wrong!
Each National Park is so different it’s really unfair to compare, even if they’re located so close together. They each have drastically unique vistas, terrain, wildlife, and definitely offers a little something new with each visit.
If you were like me and think you’ve seen all The Badlands have to offer in South Dakota, a stop here will still certainly prove you wrong and give you a totally new & different experience. Go for it!
This park is a one way loop.
Entrance is $25 or free with a National Park Pass, which is $80 for a year, and in my opinion, definitely worth it if you’re road-tripping and plan on seeing about 3-4 parks.
*On this particular trip we also hit up Yellowstone & Glacier, among others.
This park offered so much more than just the eerie desolation The Badlands are notoriously known for. It has much more lush greens, vegetation, and red sand, which was something I didn’t expect to see but loved the surprise! (I had only ever seen that’s gorgeous colored sand it in Colorado and in the SW.)
Make sure to stop by the visitors center on your way in! They have Jr Ranger Program Books for the kiddos and ranger talk info and schedules. You’ll also find lots of swag with the park’s logo which has a buffalo silhouette and is one of my favorites NP logos ever! There’s also a board with recommendations on how to spend 2hrs, 1/2 day, and 1 full day in the park! Also, take a peek at where people write their location and times of animal sightings!
You will definitely encounter wildlife here! There are plenty of prairie dogs on the drive-in! If you’ve never seen them before, they like to hide and can go unnoticed…pull off to the side of the road and open and shut your car door. They will then scatter. It’s so adorable!
You’ll see buffalo too!! We had one big fella surprise us on our hike as he climbed up the side of the mountain! Never saw that before! It was a sight we won’t soon forget! Be safe and keep your distance! They can be gentle giants, but they also weight up to 2,000 lbs and can run 65mph. Never turn your back or take a selfie with them! We got a chance to get closer than we normally would have as we were leaving while in our car!
We ran into gorgeous wild horses also!
This park was vast, but definitely “doable” in a day. Since you’re already out here in ND, I think one-night stay, (most likely the night of hiking) combined with a visit to the Cowboy Hall Of Fame before hiking, and taking in the famous theater show at night in the amphitheater down in the town of Medora where the south rim entrance is located is plenty for an adequate stop here! Camping in the park was available when we visited, which is so rare in National Parks in general, by the way
The Cowboy Hall Of Fame has a minimal fee and is located literally just before the park entrance. You can’t miss it! It offers a short but informative documentary about the land which was very interesting to see prior to heading out into it. We highly recommend seeing it to gain a full appreciation of the park. Your kiddos will love the saddles they have as seats in the theatre and the real littles will probably dressing up as Cowboys & girls too!
We had such an awesome time at our 22nd National Park. It rained and was a bit foggy, windy and chilly. I personally think that added to the gorgeous muted tones and over all laid backed, moody vibe here. We threw on hoodies as it hit mid 60’s in July and we got muddy on our hikes. It was perfection, actually! Don’t ever let weather deter you, go with it!
Safe travels, Sar