We are currently traveling the northern U.S. and stopped for a week to boondock in the grasslands outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. After spending the previous two weeks at Yellowstone National Park and feeling like we were constantly on the go, it has been a wonderful way to relax and just enjoy the scenery.
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In the late 1800s, Theodore Roosevelt came to this area to hunt bison. His love for the landscape here quickly turned his interest to cattle ranching. He went on to invest in two ranches where he eventually spent most of his time while in North Dakota. After his death and many years of name changes, this park was finally established as Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1978. You can read more about the history of the park here.
Our visit just happens to be during the U.S. re-opening process after the Covid-19 pandemic. This re-opening process has limited certain services within the national park. The visitor centers and campgrounds are all closed, so our visit is just focusing on driving the park and enjoying the scenery.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit
We are camping about 10 minutes outside of the South Unit of this national park, so it’s only natural that we visit this area first. Our day 1 adventure started at about 4:30 pm after Brent was off of work for the day and ended about an hour and a half later.
There are basically only two roads through the south unit of this national park: E River Rd and Scenic Loop Drive. Due to erosion of the ever-changing landscape here, they have the Scenic Loop Drive closed. So our visit consisted of driving E River Rd that follows along the Little Missouri River.
As we exited the interstate for the south unit entrance, we came to the quaint little town of Medora. Here we entered the park and stopped at the visitor’s center to grab a map, and then off we went on the winding road into the first area of the park.
As we came over a hill into Prairie Dog Town, everyone let out a “WHOA!” What a cool sight to see. There were so many prairie dogs sitting at the entrances to their holes in the ground. Once we got out we could hear them barking and welcoming us to the prairie lands of this beautiful national park.
We continued on to visit all of the overlooks, points of interests, and short hikes along E River Rd. If we had to recommend only one thing to do along this road, we’d say that you should stop at the Wind Canyon Trail for the moderate 15 minute hike that overlooks the Little Missouri River.
Once we reached the end of E River Rd, we continued onto the dirt road leading out of the park. After driving past a few farms and a random road sign leading to nowhere, we decided this road was a great place for our kids (ages 12 and 9) to have a homeschool driver’s ed lesson. They loved it!
This concluded our day and we made our way back through the park to the south entrance. After exiting, we got a quick picture with the national park sign before heading back to our RV.
Day 2: Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit
The North Unit of this national park is about an hour from the South Unit. Again, we started our adventure after Brent got off of work.
This section of the park has one road, Scenic Drive, that runs east and west through the park. It can easily be explored in an hour or two depending on your stops and speed. The scenery is fantastic along this stretch of road.
Our favorite area in this part of the national park was the Cannonball Concretions Pullout. It is just unlike anything else you’ll see here.
Oxbow Overlook was our final stop before turning around and heading back out of the park.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park Elkhorn Ranch Unit
Due to circumstances with the sell of our home back in Texas, we won’t have time to get to the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. This is where Theodore Roosevelt ultimately had his “home ranch”. We’d love to come back and check it out in the future.
Though this national park doesn’t measure up to our visit to Yellowstone, it’s still a lovely place to visit. It’s an easy park to visit on a weekend or even for just one day. The wildlife is alive and abundant. The scenery is breathtaking. And the lack of crowds makes for an enjoyable time of fun and exploration.