Theodore Roosevelt National Park Guide

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is nature’s finest with a diverse landscape, eroded geological formations, breathtaking scenery, and abundant wildlife!

In this guide, we will share the best camping locations in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, its history, the best time to visit, the weather, etc. So let’s begin!



ParkTheodore Roosevelt National Park
Things to doScenic Drives and many more
Hotels near Theodore Roosevelt National ParkCuster’s Cottage, Mountain View Motel, and many more.
Entry Fee$15-30
Validity7 Days
Camping LocationsMultiple Locations

Read: Gettysburg National Military Park 

About Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States due to the beauty and diversity of the landscape.

The Park is a tribute to the President who gave birth to America’s conservation movement through sheer commitment and will and shares a special connection with him.

The 70,000-acre Park is located in the badlands of Western North Dakota and has three units: North, South, and Elkhorn Ranch.

The Park has a diverse landscape made of eroded geological formations, stunning natural scenery, and a wide array of wildlife. 

The Park is home to one of the biggest and last petrified forests globally, where you can see the remains of a prehistoric forest.

There are plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, rock climbing, camping, and photography. 

Roosevelt Island Tram Travel Guide

History Of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

In 1884, the young wife of President Theodore Roosevelt died after giving birth to their daughter Alice Lee just after 11 hours after him losing his mother to typhoid fever.

This grief hit him so hard that he made his way to the badlands of North Dakota.

He went to heal his broken heart but discovered a heart instead for preserving the beauty and wonder that exists in the landscapes all across the United States.  

When Theodore became President less than a decade later, he made nature conservation a primary focus.

He protected more than 230 million acres of land under the designations of national forests, monuments, parks, and reserves. 

Theodore National Park was created in his honor in 1978 in the place where he developed the love for nature.

Those who have visited the Park know what inspired him to preserve and protect this sacred beauty.

On November 10, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed the legislation to elevate the status of the Park into a National Park. 

Read: Volcanoes National Park

Things To Do In The Park

Here are some top five things to do in the this Park to help you plan your trip: 

Painted Canyon Trail

Your first view of the Park comes from the Painted Canyon Visitor Center, where you can gather information about the Park and get a glimpse of rugged North Dakota Badlands.

The Painted Canyon Trail is a 4.2-mile hike that starts from a few hundred yards east of the visitor center.

It provides an excellent opportunity to experience the magnificent landscape of the Park that inspired the President up close.

The trail descends into the canyon, winding through the rock formations and gullies, and then takes you through the meadow of prairie grass.

You can see plenty of wildflowers and remains of ancient trees along the way.  

Scenic Drives Of North & South

Both North and South Units of the Park offer paved scenic drives. North Unit has a 14-mile scenic drive that takes you to the bottom of badlands and then up and out of the canyon.

Wildlife is abundant along the route, and there’s a great chance to spot some bison on your way grazing in meadows.

The South Unit Scenic drive is 36 miles of excellent with several pullouts and overlooks that offer great information about the history of the Park. 

Prairie Dog Town

Wildlife is relatively abundant throughout the this Park, and Prairie Dog Town in the South Unit is one of the highlights of the Park.

Prairie dogs are the cutest short-tailed animals that communicate with each other by making specific sounds called “barks” and “Yelps.”

The town consists of many closely spaced burrows with an elaborate number of tunnels and numerous entrances. If you’re an animal lover, you will love this place. 

Petrified Forest Trail

Another neat place to see in the Park is the Petrified Forest Trail, where trees have turned stones.

This remote 10.4-mile trail passes through the Prairie and takes you to a rocky environment containing a massive petrified wood concentration.

There are two different collections of petrified wood, so it’s better to talk to the ranger and get recommendations based on current conditions before attempting the trail.

Along the route, you can enjoy the stunning panoramic views of the badlands and encounter wildlife, including deer, bison, and antelopes. 

Elkhorn Ranch Unit

The Elkhorn Ranch Unit is the cabin site where Roosevelt purchased his ranch after a first visit to this area.

His first home was the “Maltese Cross Cabin,” and a year later, he purchased the Elkhorn, which now pays homage to Roosevelt’s time he spends here.

There are exhibits to showcase the passages he wrote about his experiences on the ranch that stirred the spirit of conserving nature in him. 

Best Time To Visit 

The best time to visit the this Park Is Fall (September and October); when the weather is most pleasant, the number of visitors drops, and animals roam more freely.

The leaves of the cottonwood trees turn gold which makes it an ideal time to camp in the Park. 

Map Of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Park covers 70,466 acres of land in three units. Make sure to download the Park’s map to help you plan your trip and navigate smoothly in the Park.

Visit the official website of NPS to download the printable version of the map. 

Camping Locations At Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Park has two camping grounds: Cottonwood Campground and Juniper Campground.

Both campgrounds feature one group site and multiple standard sites. Cotton Campground is located inside the Park about 5-miles from Medora, ND.

Juniper Campground is located in the Park’s North Unit, around 5-miles away from highway 85.

All campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be reserved at

Weather Of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Summers are hot in the Park, with average daily highs in the 70s and 80s and occasional thunderstorms.

During winters, temperatures plunge into single digits, and fresh snow on the badlands is one of the most remarkable sights you can experience.

Spring brings frequent rainfalls and transforms the hillside into a bright green wonderland with red scoria rock underneath.

However, the weather conditions can change quickly, so check the current weather for the potential warnings for blizzards and thunderstorms. 

Read: Torres Del Paine National Park

Best Hotels Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

There are no lodging options inside the Park except the two campgrounds. To find the best hotels near the Park, Medora is your best option.

Here are the top five recommendations from our side: 

  • AmericInn Motel and Suites
  • Rough Riders Hotel
  • Buffalo Gap Guest Ranch 
  • Custer’s Cottage
  • Mountain View Motel

Entrance Fee And Passes

The Park’s entrance fee is $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorbike, and $15 per individual on foot or a bike with a valid pass for all three units of the Park for seven consecutive days.

Other entry passes, including Annual Pass, America the Beautiful, Senior Pass, and Military pass, are also available. Passes can be purchased online before visiting the Park. 

Read: Slide Rock State Park, Sedona

Read: Kenai Fjords National Park 

Checklist Of Things tO Pack 

Here’s are some essentials you must have while visiting the Park:

  • Day pack 
  • Seasonally appropriate clothes
  • Sun protection gear
  • Waterproof jacket & boots
  • Plenty of water and food
  • Ready to eat food 
  • Waterproof matches/lighter
  • Flashlight/headlamp 
  • Power bank
  • First-aid kit
  • Bug repellent 
  • Park’s Map


How many visitors does Theodore Roosevelt National Park receive annually?

More than 600,000 visitors visit the Theodore Roosevelt National Park every year. 

How long do I need to explore the Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

If you want to cover all three units of the Park, you’ll need 2-3 days in the Park. 

Can I Drive through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

Yes, the Park offers two stunning scenic drives in North and South Units to drive through the Park and enjoy the spectacular views from the comfort of your car. 

NPC Overall Rating

Leave a Comment