Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota on the map. National Park Theodore Roosevelt ( North Dakota state) on the map of US

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Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota on the map. National Park Theodore Roosevelt  ( North Dakota state) on the map of US

Below: Late summer on the prairie in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, with the bluffs rising in the distance.

Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota

Established: 1978   Acreage: 70,416

In the North Dakota Badlands, where many of Theodore Roosevelt's personal concerns gave rise to his later environmental efforts, he is remembered with a national park that bears his name. Roosevelt first came to Dakota to hunt, but found that the bison had virtually been exterminated. The ranges upon which countless numbers of bison had once roamed were covered with native grasses that were well-suited for the grazing of cattle. Roosevelt soon became interested in the cattle business and joined two other men as partners in the Maltese Cross Ranch. The next year he returned and established a second open-range ranch, the Elkhorn, as his own operation.

The park consists of two separate areas, known as the North and South units, and the Elkhorn Ranch site. In the park's North Unit visitors may encounter longhorns, similar to the cattle raised by ranchers in Roosevelt's time. The park is also home to herds of bison that graze the Badlands as they once did, though now their numbers are few. The efforts of Roosevelt and other conservationists helped to save the bison

from extinction. Mule deer, whitetail deer and prairie dogs also inhabit the park. More than 125 species of birds, many of which are songbirds, can be found (and heard) within the park. Near the visitor center is a series of slump blocks, huge sections of bluff that gradually slide intact to the valley floor. This is not uncommon in the Badlands, where canyon walls are too steep to support a top-heavy formation.

At the museum in the South Unit one can see personal items of Theodore Roosevelt's, ranching artifacts and natural history displays. The restored Maltese Cross cabin is nearby. A major feature of the South Unit is a paved, 36-mile, scenic loop which lets visitors explore the landscape. Although the park may seem barren and inhospitable, the land is rich in geologic history. Many areas of the park contain bands of lignite coal and petrified trees, both of which were formed from the trees that lay buried under sediment on the alluvial plain during the Tertiary period. The lignite coal continues to shape the Badlands. Lightning can ignite the coal, which then burns for many years, heating the rocks above. The heated rocks grow harder and are then more resistant to erosion.

On the edge of the South Unit is the DeMores State Historic Site, a 27-room chateau that the Marquis DeMores built in 1884. The marquis, an acquaintance of Theodore Roosevelt, was a wealthy French nobleman who built a slaughterhouse to process beef from the large local herds for shipping to market in the then new refrigerated railroad cars.


Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota on the map. National Park Theodore Roosevelt  ( North Dakota state) on the map of US