National Park Week Begins This Weekend

Since this is #NationalParkWeek, you have a reason to visit.  The South Unit is open and the website says it’s a free visit. No admission fee. . 

Here’s what you will see, Eleven photos to whet your appetite.

Learn more about the daily events at all the National Parks.

North Dakotans are Blessed to have the TR National Park

Even now, just like all year round, the three units of the National Park are amazing sites. That means they provide photo opportunities that are endless.

The three units are different from one another.  So, each one offers unique landscape, solitude and beauty.

To mark National Park Week, here’s a sample of the beauty of the three units.

There are differences between the three units, south unit, Elkhorn Ranch unit and north unit.

South Unit

our destination, top of ridge. looking northwest Mike doing Facebook Live. South Unit TRNP nearing sunset 11-28-2021

Our destination, a 250 foot hill top and ridge. looking northwest and doing Facebook Live.

The south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the most popular unit. It’s right off Interstate 94 at exit 23 and Medora. It is the larger of the three units and offers many marked trails. So, for the hardy hiker, it offers the opportunity to hike off-trail into the interior of the park.

For the adventurous soul, Boicourt Trail leads out on a narrow tall ridge for a spectacular view of miles and miles of Badlands.

An elk finds nourishment from grasses in a prairie dog town in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Photo by Carol Priestley.

An elk finds nourishment from grasses in a prairie dog town in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Photo by Carol Priestley.

North Unit

Autumn colors contrast with the deep cuts on the western end of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park north unit. The National Grasslands are turning golden brown along the hills and ridges to the south.

The north unit is just 15 miles south of Watford City, the hub of the northern badlands. It’s more rugged up north than it is in the south unit. The north unit is also smaller so the chances of getting close to bison are better in the north unit where it is more condensed.

As the sun sank lower towards the horizon on an early fall day, this bison almost took on a golden glow. A brilliant golden hour lit up the western edges of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Our drive to Oxbow Overlook was peaceful, serene, and surprising . We found bison slowly lumbering along side our vehicle as we crept along. We observed big horn sheep on the hillside next to us. They mingled with the bison in peace. Read about the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park here: Purchase this photo here:

Never get closer than this if you want a selfie with a bison in it. Did you know bison can run twice as fast as a human? We are about 500 yards from the beast at the Oxbow Overlook.
Read about the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park here:
Purchase this photo here:

big horn in the north unit

The north unit is home to big horn sheep. Large game wildlife experts with ND Game and Fish estimate there are 450 big horns in the northern Badlands. That makes it likely to spot one like this in the north unit.

Elkhorn Ranch

elkhorn rnach hilltops evening unset

The hilltops above the Elkhorn Ranch offer a large view of where Roosevelt ranched. He rode these hills rounding up cattle and calves, hunting and exploring.

Here is where Theodore Roosevelt grieved and healed after the death of his mother and wife on the same day.

The Elkhorn Ranch unit is the least visited unit of the three national park units. Even during #NationalParkWeek. It’s a thrilling drive of 28 miles of gravel road leading past ancient cemeteries, through open grazing, and along the tops of badlands hills.  

The cabin is gone. As was traditional at the time, when a ranch was abandoned, nearby ranches were free to take the lumber and use it on their own ranch. The region is otherwise undisturbed, so you can get a good sense of what TR felt, and saw at the Elkhorn Ranch Cabin site north of Medora

Sun Begins to Set Over the Elkhorn Ranch, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is now a historic site, part of Theodore Roosevelt Nation Park and part as a North Dakota State Historic Site. From the porch of Theodore Roosevelt’s ranch home, this is the same scene he experienced. Peace, quiet, calm. That’s what you ‘ll find at the Elkhorn Ranch, northwest of Medora, North Dakota.
Read about the Elkhorn Ranch here:

Elkhorn Campground

Not many people see how good things look in the Badlands at breakfast time.

One of the best campgrounds in the Badlands is just around the bend from the historic site. Elkhorn campground is rarely used because it is a long drive off the pavement, it offers shade and solitude.

The three units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park are open year round, 7-days a week, unless a major winter storm blocks the roads. One is 15 miles south of Watford City, the other is along Interstate 94. Eighty miles of Badlands separate the units, but throughout the region, trails are marked along the way such as Summit, Bennett Creek and Magpie.

Did you know

You don’t need #NationalParkWeek to visit.  Plan your trip and keep up with everything in western North Dakota and the Badlands by clicking on our Things to Do Page and the calendar of events.

Or you can follow along on Facebook. Give us a like and follow on Facebook to stay tuned.

Watford City! The hub of western North Dakota.

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