Theodore Roosevelt National Park
I drove to North Dakota this fall. Knowing how busy some places were this year, I wanted to see something different. One park unit I had read about and even seen a few pictures of was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Our only park named for a person honors the old Rough Rider. It is said his time in North Dakota made him the President. I wanted to visit here and see it.
The park has two main sections and then a smaller third portion of the remains of his Elkhorn Ranch. After looking around at maps and images, I wanted to visit the remote north unit. One thing almost stopped me....a potential government shutdown. My plan had been to go to the Sand Hills, Badlands and then Black Hills. But with a looming shutdown I went north.
I arrived in the north unit of TRNP and was instantly impressed. The Little Missouri River carves a decent sized canyon here surrounds by badlands as it cuts into the prairie. There is fall color in the stands of cottonwoods. I see some of the many bison here. There are only 5 other campers here.....
I am already in love with this place!
It is instantly easy to see why TR loved this area so much. There is a fantastic beauty to the place. The remote quiet of the Great Plains with the magnificent Little Mo.
I sent up camp and end up staying three nights and enjoy every moment of it. The fact I am in a national park and have to only share it with a handful of other people reminds me of the old days before Big Bend was "discovered".
I am here at peak fall color. The cottonwoods are blazing bright yellow all along the river. There are a few clouds from time to time but the nights are mostly clear with great dark sky. I see bison and bighorn.
Every day I hike along the rim of the river canyon. I walk among the cottonwoods under a golden canopy of leaves while crunching those that have already fallen. I see bison. I stare at the Milky Way at night. I watch sunrise and sunset.
I turn the cameras on what this place has to offer and my three nights go by very quick.
I will also make the drive down to the south unit of TRNP. This is along the interstate near the town of Medora. The park has more visitors but still nowhere near Yosemite level. It is not bad but still seems like a lot after having the north unit almost to myself.
The canyon of the Little Missouri is not as deep here but there are wild horses roaming the park. I stay of a night and set up on a bluff over the river to photograph the Milky Way. In one of my images I get lucky and capture the space station going over! See the image to the right.
It was a great call to go to the Dakotas and especially TRNP. I was very impressed with the park. The scenery, animals and lack of visitors made it an experience to remember. This is a place I will be back to see.