top of page
  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

4 Days in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Updated: Jul 17

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in western North Dakota, is a unique and breathtaking destination. Named after the 26th President of the United States, who was instrumental in creating the national park system, this park spans over 70,000 acres of pristine wilderness. Visitors can explore the park's rugged badlands, hike scenic trails, and observe a variety of wildlife such as bison, elk, and prairie dogs. With its diverse landscape and rich history, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty of the American West. The views were amazing and the Little Missouri River, even with its low water levels was beautiful.

It was a 225-mile, 4-and-a-half-hour drive to Buffalo Gap Resort, North Dakota where we stayed. We couldn’t get reservations in the park or anywhere closer to Medora. I wouldn’t call it much of a resort with only 3 or 4 other RV’s staying there the 5 nights we were there. It was 2 miles off of Interstate 94 on a dirt road and 9 miles from Medora and the entrance to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. However, it served its purpose as we were only there at night to eat and sleep. This was a destination on a long road trip. To see the start of this trip click here.

sunrise lighting up the golden grass and the rolling hills
Sunrise at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

trailers and 5th wheels at the rv park at Buffalo Gap Resort
Buffalo Gap Resort

Medora is a charming tourist town, bustling with shops, motels, and restaurants. On our way in and out of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we made sure to stop by a couple of times for some shopping. For dinner, we had a fantastic meal at The Little Missouri Saloon and Dining Room on their balcony, enjoying the stunning views of the town. During our three-day stay in the South Unit, we ventured out on East River Road, which is dotted with various overlooks and pullouts. Although it's supposed to be a loop road, we, unfortunately, hit a roadblock for construction just a few miles before rejoining East River Road.

Group of wild horses on a grassy hillside in Theodore Roosevelt national park
Wild horses

Eroded landscape with orange and tan colors and a cloudy blue sky
Eroded landscape

log cabin set in trees with a cloudy blue sky
Theodore Roosevelt Maltese Cross Cabin

During our time in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we were lucky enough to encounter several herds of bison and even spotted a group of wild horses twice. To get a closer look at the park's beauty, we embarked on a few short hikes, with our favorite being the Ekblom Trail, which takes you across the Little Missouri River. We accessed the trail from Peaceful Valley Road and even caught a glimpse of bison grazing along the river on two separate occasions.

Bison in the Little Missouri with his reflection in the river at Theodore Roosevelt, national park
Bison in the Little Missouri River

hills and the clouds reflected in the river
Where the Ekblom Trail crosses the river

At the Wind Canyon Overlook, we were treated to an awe-inspiring view of the river, which we absolutely loved. We made sure to visit this spot twice - once during the day and once in the evening for a breathtaking sunset view. During our hikes, we encountered a lot of grasshoppers. It was quite amusing to see them take off in a frenzy with each step we took on the path.

Wind Canyon Overlook with the little Missouri River winding through the valley
Wind Canyon Overlook with the little Missouri River

One day, we decided to make the 80-mile drive up to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We took the Scenic Loop Drive all the way to the end, where we were treated to some breathtaking views. Despite the name, the drive ended at an overlook, but we didn't mind since the scenery was so stunning. Of all the overlooks we saw, our favorite was The Riverbend Overlook. We also enjoyed a short hike on the Caprock Coulee Trail, which is a long trail but we only did a section of it. We had a relaxing lunch at the picnic area while observing a herd of bison strolling through the area.

little Missouri River winding through the hills and trees
North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

surreal eroded landscape
North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

In conclusion, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone who wants to experience the beauty of the great American West. From the rugged badlands and the winding river to the abundance of wildlife and unique geology, there is something for everyone to explore and enjoy. Whether you spend a few days or a few weeks in the park, you're sure to be captivated by the stunning landscapes and the rich history of this unique region.

It was a 3-day, 580-mile drive with overnight stops in Jamestown North Dakota, and Bemidji MN to The Pines at Lake Kabatogama and Voyageurs National Park

Lorna's Tips and Lessons

We have six grandchildren, with a fifteen-year age gap between the oldest and youngest. To my surprise, I have found that they all enjoy receiving postcards from our travels. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to the app Snap Shot Postcard, which allows you to create personalized postcards from your photos and mail them to your family and friends without needing stamps. They have been a big hit. We don't do a lot of shopping for souvenirs but I couldn't resist getting a Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear as a reminder of my visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page