Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park: A Unique Perspective of the Badlands

Why Should I Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

How can you not visit the National Park named after the President who established the U.S. Forest Service and the first National Park? If you’re a National Park enthusiast, you can’t miss Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States. He’s best known for his contributions to the conservation efforts in America. He created the United States Forest Service and paved the way for National Parks.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park protects 70,446.89 total acres. Of those 70,446.89 acres, 29,920 of them are designated wilderness areas. Over 600,000 visitors travel to Theodore Roosevelt National Park each year. 

Experience the Badlands of North Dakota by visiting one of Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s three units. Stunning rock features filled with prairie flora and fauna await adventurers. Continue reading to see exactly what to add to your itinerary.

River Bend Overlook, Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit

Which Theodore Roosevelt National Park Unit Should I Visit?

Plan accordingly for all three Units of Theodore National Park in your calendar. Each unit has a little something different to offer all kinds of explorers. 

The North Unit

The North Unit is perfect for adventurers looking for significantly fewer crowds, longer, more strenuous hiking opportunities, and seclusion. 

The South Unit

I recommend the South Unit to families and people who want to experience a National Park with the amenities of a quaint town close by. 

Elkhorn Ranch Unit

The Elkhorn Ranch Unit is for the history buff. Often referred to as Teddy Roosevelt’s home ranch, it was the site of his second ranch operation where only a stone foundation remains.

When Should I Plan my Theodore National Park Visit?

The summer months are best for hikes who prefer temperatures in the mid-70s to 90s. If you enjoy cold-weather hiking, all three units hit single digits in the winter months. 

Always check the weather forecast. National Park visitors should be prepared for thunderstorms in the summer and blizzard conditions in the winter. 

What Did We Do on Our Theodore Roosevelt National Park Visit?

Aside from getting engaged in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we hiked gorgeous trails in both the North and South Units. 

Top 3 Hikes in Theodore Roosevelt’s North Unit

Visit the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park for some longer, more rugged hiking opportunities.

Hiking the Buckhorn Trail in Theodore Roosevelt’s North Unit
  • Buckhorn Trail
    A 10.8-mile loop spanning 1,033 feet of elevation gain. Venture into Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s back country where you’ll hike right through prairie dog down, navigate a herd of bison, and explore some of the North Unit’s highest points.
  • Caprock Coulee Loop
    Experience the geographical variety of Theodore Roosevelt National Park on a 4.4 mile, 583 foot of elevation gain hike. Often described as one of the best hikes in the park, I recommend snagging parking for this one early in the day.
  • Sperati Point
    Sperati Point is the perfect sunset hike! Located at the end of the scenic drive, this 2.4-mile round-trip hike is an easy way to escape the crowded overlooks and see the most beautiful colors over the Missouri River for sunset. 

Top 3 Hikes in Theodore Roosevelt’s South Unit

Visit Theodore Roosevelt’s South Unit for a handful of really family friendly hikes!

Boicourt Overlook Trail in Theodore Roosevelt’s South Unit
  • Boicourt Overlook
    This .8-mile hike is short, sweet, and provides stunning views for visitors of all abilities. The first quarter mile of the trail is paved with resting benches every hundred feet. At the end of the blacktop, there’s an opportunity for 360-degree views. Follow the dirt path to get there!
  • Buck Hill
    A .4 mile, short and steep trail brings you to the highest point in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This popular trail is often busy, but absolutely worth the quick stop.
  • Painted Canyon Trail
    Vivid, colorful canyon layers await hikers on the 1.1-mile Painted Canyon Trail. The loop will bring you down into the canyon through juniper trees and wildflowers providing a great perspective of what the Badlands has to offer. 

Check out all the amazing hikes we completed with a full list of Teddy Roosevelt’s National Park’s Best Hikes.

What Will We Do Next Trip?

We spent three full days exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park, however, there’s still more to do. 

  • Mountain bike more of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, located just outside the North Unit Entrance in the CCC Campground.
  • Explore the South Unit by horseback with Roundup Group Horse Camp.
  • Checkout Peaceful Valley Ranch, the only remaining original ranch house in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 
Mountain Biking the Maah Daah Hey Trial in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Published by Kaitlyn Fortier

Hello everybody! My name is Kaitlyn Fortier. I'm a Middle School Teacher and 3-season Athletics coach in Central New York. I utilize this platform to share actionable tips, 'best-of' lists, and budget-friendly travel guides for explorers of all travel interests.

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