Seldom Seen Badlands Elk
Driving and hiking in western North Dakota, in the Beautiful Badlands region, wild life is found in abundance. Majestic elk roam free in and out of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but are not always easy to spot.
Elk in Brilliant Winter Sunshine
While on a photo safari through the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park photographer Carol Priestley had the chance of a lifetime! On a frigid February day when the high temperature was -8, after a night time low of -26 or so, she spotted two majestic male elk.
Elk Browse for Vegetation
The elk at the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park took advantage of a brilliant winter sun to warm a bit, and to browse for vegetation at a large prairie dog town. There Carol observed them as they walked, munching as they moved along.
Photographer of Elk… and Much More! Carol Priestley
Carol Priestley is an avid and prolific photographer in western North Dakota. Her photographs from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, especially of the wild horses, present a side of North Dakota missed by many. View her beautiful photographs on Carol’s Photography Instagram page. Also an accomplished scrimshaw artist, you’ll find her amazing work here: Carol Priestley Scrimshaw & Engraving.
Find out more about the intriguing wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park here: Have You Visited the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park?
We discovered just-born wildlife on a spring day in the Beautiful Badlands! Join us on our fruitful hike here: New Born Bison Signals Spring in the Badlands!
After you’ve been exploring the Beautiful Badlands and Grasslands of western North Dakota, consider a stop in Belfield for real good food from real good people! Burly’s is one of our favorite eateries in the west!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park open?
Yes it is. Unless heavy snow prompts road closures, the entire park, including Elkhorn Ranch, as well as the north and south units are open.
Where are the two units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park?
The south unit straddles Interstate 94 about 25 miles inside the North Dakota/Montana State Line. The north unit sits along Highway 85 about 15 miles south of Watford City.
What is the difference between the north and south units?
The south unit is larger and more popular. The Administrative History of the two units describes the mission of the south unit is more about economics, drawing people off the Interstate. It says the north unit is more of a nature preserve. Both units are popular with visitors with full amenities including campgrounds, trails, and vault toilets.
Can you see bison and other wildlife in the park in the winter?
Yes, bison and wild horses in the south unit roam year round. In the north unit, bison and longhorns are out and about year round, too. Some times, bighorn sheep graze along the road in the north unit in the winter. Visitors see elk and mule deer on ridgelines and hilltops all year round. Prairie dogs come out when the weather is warm, even on a warm winter day.