Teddy Roosevelt Nat'l Park

Medora Travel Blog

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in the North Dakota Teddy Roosevelt Park

We’re discovering that our trip is shadowing the travels of 4 famous Americans, even though we didn’t originally plan it that way.  The men are Theodore Roosevelt, Meriwether Lewis, George Rogers Clark and George Armstrong Custer.  I told you about Custer’s last battle in an earlier posting; today it’s Theodore Roosevelt that influences our travel.


As we left Miles City, MT going east the heat (still with highs over 100) and dust made the air hazy.  There are more brown and gold hills with rich green along the river.  The hills are layered with a few cattle bunching together in whatever shade they can find by water holes and no other signs of life.  Hidden canyons and isolated treeless heights are austere.  This is not settled land – people perch here, survive – man has not transformed this land.

the buffalo that challanged our car
  Strangely the grass land gets progressively greener as we travel from Montana into North Dakota. 


Theodore Roosevelt National Park is on the southwestern side of North Dakota.  It’s the badlands area along the Little Missouri River and the landscape is the result of streams cutting through deposits from 60 million years ago.  In 1883, Theodore Roosevelt bought land in this area and after both his wife and his mother died on the same day, Roosevelt returned here to find peace and solace in the solitude.   He started ranching here and loved the wild beauty of the land but was alarmed by the growing destruction of the land and its wildlife.

wild horses at sunset in the park
  When he became President in 1901, he founded the US Forrest Service, named 18 national monuments and established 5 national parks to preserve the beauty of American land.  These badlands are the area that made him a conservationist.


In the heat of the mid-afternoon, we drove the 36 mile loop thru the South unit of the park.  We stopped for scenic overlooks and prairie dog towns.  It was not the best time for photography. (Scenery looks better with the sideways light of morning or late afternoon to give shadows and provide depth to the image.  Noontime scenery looks flat and dull in photos.)  Then we drove 50 some miles north to the North unit of the park and had better light by the time we got there.  The North unit is way off the Interstate Highway but is worth the effort to get there and even more spectacular than the South unit.

sunset in the ND badlands


By the time we drove back to see the South unit again, the light was perfect.  Even better, the wildlife was visible.  The herds of buffalo use the road as an easy path to their nighttime area and we were surrounded by herds of them twice.  We stopped to watch as they walked toward us.  This first herd had a large bull who challenged our car.  He ambled directly in front of the bumper, lowered his head, slobbered, grunted, flicked his ears and stuck out a large purple tongue.  We would have been happy to back up and give him the road but there were buffalo behind us too and we couldn’t move.  Finally he decided he’d made his point and walked past my side of the car.  I had the window rolled up and was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible while photographing him.  No flash photography here.  Buffalo traffic jams have their own rules.


We encountered wild horse herds that were also traveling along the road and went past and around our car.  There were mule deer and rabbits everywhere and even a wild turkey that exploded out of the brush and over the car.  It was a phenomenal experience in a wildly beautiful place. 

Occidenoir says:
I haven't been out to TRNP yet, but I really need to go. Fantastic shots.
Posted on: Sep 06, 2007
Sybaritic says:
I love traveling these places again with you!
Posted on: Aug 04, 2007
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in the North Dakota Teddy Roosevel…
in the North Dakota Teddy Rooseve…
the buffalo that challanged our car
the buffalo that challanged our car
wild horses at sunset in the park
wild horses at sunset in the park
sunset in the ND badlands
sunset in the ND badlands
photo by: mrgishi