Long before Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th president of the United States he was an avid hunter, naturalist, and outdoorsman. One of Theodore Roosevelt’s very favorite places was a rugged stretch of North Dakota that featured a series of surreal rock formations that looked like they were made out of petrified candle wax. Theodore Roosevelt was so passionate about this remote stretch of North Dakota that it eventually become known as Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Theodore Roosevelt was so enamored with North Dakota that he ultimately ran two separate ranches on the outskirts of barren Badlands. The Maltese Cross Ranch was Roosevelt’s first ranch. Theodore Roosevelt adored ranch life so much that he decided to build a second ranch called Elkhorn Ranch in the late 1800s. Despite suffering some staggering losses due to the harsh climate, Roosevelt proclaimed his love for ranch life and never tired of sitting on his porch and looking out on the “weird-looking buttes” in the distance.
The quaint Old West town of Medora—which is adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park—serves up steak cooked to perfection on a pitchfork. Medora is also home to an Old West musical, horseback rides, and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Strolling along Medora’s main drag is akin to stepping two centuries into the past.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park features several outlooks and scenic drives where visitors can spy herds of buffalo slowly fanning out across the Badlands, arid cliffs that extend as far as the eye can see, and naturally formed spherical rocks that look as though they were forged by a skilled artisan. The Oxbow Overlook offers a panoramic view of one of the most wild, striking landscapes in America. The Badlands—which are dotted with sparse vegetation—appear truly endless.
Theodore Roosevelt is often hailed as the father of America’s National Park system since he worked tirelessly to preserve so many rugged natural spaces. If you’re a National Park lover, a trip to visit one of Theodore Roosevelt’s most beloved landscapes is an absolute must. The sight of a majestic elk standing at attention, a playful family of prairie dogs scurrying about, or an orange sunset flanked by grey and white rocks is worth traveling north for. Remote North Dakota tends to be a lot less packed than more accessible locales like California. If you’re a naturalist at heart like Theodore Roosevelt, the National Park that shares Roosevelt’s name is calling.