Park crowds sparce
Theodore Roosevelt National Park's petrified forest can be a quiet place without crowds. But, then, that is the beauty of the park as a whole. There are no crowds that pack fellow national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. In fact, with 481,00...
Theodore Roosevelt National Park's petrified forest can be a quiet place without crowds.
But, then, that is the beauty of the park as a whole. There are no crowds that pack fellow national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. In fact, with 481,000 visitors last year, Roosevelt is one of the least-visited national parks.
"You can almost see and almost feel what Theodore Roosevelt felt," the park's Bruce Kaye said.
Before becoming the 26th president in 1901, Roosevelt visited western North Dakota's badlands, starting two ranches. While big-game hunting brought Roosevelt to the badlands, over the years he turned into one of the country's best-known environmentalists.
The main attraction of the park, named after Roosevelt and encompassing 70,448 acres in two units, is its rugged beauty. Badlands that dominate western North Dakota were carved by the Little Missouri River, leaving buttes that reveal millions of years of layering.
Much of the park is grassland, supporting 465 bison in the South Unit and 145 in the North Unit, up to 25 big horn sheep in the north, about 90 wild horses and nearly 700 elk. Also, prairie dog towns are popular with visitors, even those who stick to the nearly 60 miles of paved roads.
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Don Davis at (651) 290-0707
If you go
Location: South Unit is just off Interstate 94. North Unit is on U.S. 85, 54 miles north of Interstate 94.
Cost: $5 per person, with a $10 carload maximum, for a seven-day pass. Senior citizen and annual passes are available.
Information: Visitors centers are near entrances of both units. A third center, the Painted Canyon Visitor Center, is along the interstate in the south unit and may be the most visited single tourist site in North Dakota.
Open: Park is open year around.
Camping: Both units include campgrounds, although there are no water or electrical hookups.
Hiking: Park has trails from less than a mile on up.
Petrified forest: Although reached by a private road on the west side of the park, those wanting to visit the petrified forest should stop at the South Unit's visitor center to pick up a map and other information.
Web site: www.nps.gov/thro