We drove through the TR National Park the other day. Just an afternoon drive.

Think about That

For us North Dakotans, it seems so normal to say “I drove through the National Park the other day.”  I imagine millions of Americans do not have that luxury. 

North Dakota’s Own National Park

All it takes is a whim, and a tank of gas. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is right here to enjoy. North or South.

It ranks right up there with Yellowstone or Yosemite, only on a more intimate level.

But different. Not as overgrown. Over-toured.

It’s a Habit

My habit of driving through the TR National Park began back in 1993. 

The South Unit was my recovery room. With a crushed soul, my Australian Shepherd with crushed hips joined me on our rehabilitation visits two or three times a week.

This was way back when there were not many people at the park, and an unleashed dog – against the rules -not a big deal.

We covered much of the interior before marked trails invited visitors to explore.

So, an early November drive through the park is part of my world.  It’s where I go.


pleasant valley ranch log cabin

The Pleasant Valley Ranch is in as good of shape as ever. In 1993, my mother paid for a trail ride here for all her grandchildren. A pricey adventure, but a long lasting memory now that trail rides are no longer offered.

This time

It was late day, the time of day when I start looking at the clock to align my body clock with the dimming sunlight of the day.

We were hooked on the few brief interludes of direct sun crowning the hills. 

A moment at the Pleasant Valley Ranch to see the results of last year’s construction showed an upgrade that will be good for the park in years to come. 

The moment was a break from the grey day and featureless hills.  But then, we really were not there for any kind of a brilliant landscape vista.  We knew what to expect.  A few bison:

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We went off in search of a good wildlife image, and we didn’t spend a lot of time there.

The sun was going down and it was going to get dark.  But we knew we’d return often. It’s a 12-month attraction. Always open.

We had 130 miles to return to Wilton.

But for an afternoon drive in a National Park, it was an afternoon worth the effort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

On the western edge of North Dakota in the North Dakota Badlands. The south unit is on Interstate 94. The Elkhorn Ranch unit is about 28 miles of gravel to the northwest. The north unit is at Watford City.

Are the Badlands Open?

Yes, it is ranch country with maintained gravel roads wiggling through the terrain where possible. 

Where can I see photos of the Badlands?

A complete collection of images, including wildlife can be found at www,mykuls.com.

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