Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Where Wildlife & Buffalo Still Roam

January 15th, 2012 Permalink

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President, fell in love with the North Dakota badlands during his first visit there in 1883 while he was hunting bison. Roosevelt believed the ‘Wild West’ had a rugged lifestyle and ‘perfect freedom.’ The establishment of Theodore Roosevelt National Park was to memorialize Roosevelt’s life, and the influence the landscape had on him and his conservation ethics. The 110 square miles park is divided into three sections packed with wildlife including bison, feral horses, elk, bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer and mule deer, prairie dogs, and 186 species of birds such as golden eagles, sharp-tailed grouse, and wild turkeys. The largest, South Unit, and the North Unit have about 100 miles of foot and horse trails, wildlife viewing, and opportunities for back country hiking and camping. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit which has Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is located in-between the two larger units. Besides wonderful wildlife, the National Park Service calls the bizarre geologic rock formations the “grim fairyland” of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Roosevelt said the badlands were “so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth.” Here’s a look at the wildlife at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, one of the few places where the buffalo still roam. [35 Photos]

Feral Horses in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Feral Horses in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. To give you an idea of the time period that Roosevelt fell in the love with the area, he told two favorite stories from the Dakota Territory: The Bar Fight and the adventure of Pursuing Boat Thieves. Photo #1 by Sarah Nystrom / NPS

North Dakota Badlands Overlook -- Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North Dakota Badlands Overlook at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park is made up various ecosystems such as flood plains, forests prairies and grasslands, and rivers and streams. Roosevelt said, “The preservation of the useful and beautiful animal and bird life of the country depends largely upon creating in the young an interest in the life of the woods and fields.” Photo #2 by Sarah Nystrom / NPS


Porcupine sitting in a tree at Theodore Roosevelt NP

Porcupine perch in a tree at the park. Photo #3 by NPS

Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam . . . TRNP

Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam . . . TRNP. Photo #4 by Alex1961

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Cannonball concretions pullout

‘Cannonball concretions pullout.’ Photo #5 by MDuchek

Theodore Roosevelt National Park badlands sunset

Sunset over the North Dakota badlands. Photo #6 by Sarah Nystrom / NPS

A small group of elk on the Ridgeline Nature Trail at TRNP

A small group of elk on the Ridgeline Nature Trail. Photo #7 by Nathan King / NPS

About to storm Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Storm forming over Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo #8 by Chris

Wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

More wild horses roaming the park. In 1901, Teddy Roosevelt said, “We get exactly as much in hunting with the camera as in hunting with the rifle; and of the two, the former is the kind of sport which calls, for the higher degree of skill, patience, resolution, and knowledge of the life history of the animal sought.” Photo #9 by Sarah Nystrom / NPS

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has the 3rd largest petrified forest in the USA

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has the 3rd largest petrified forest in the USA. Photo #10 by Mary Brazell

Prairie Dogs at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

“Prairie-dogs are abundant…; they are in shape like little woodchucks, and are the most noisy and inquisitive animals imaginable. They are never found singly, but always in towns of several hundred inhabitants; and these towns are found in all kinds of places where the country is flat and treeless,” said Theodore Roosevelt. NPS asked, Did you know that “coyotes and badgers both benefit by cooperating to catch prairie dogs? The badger tunnels into the prairie dog burrow after its prey while the coyote waits by the exit to catch prairie dogs fleeing from the badger.” Photo #11 by S Nystrom / NPS

Rain pillars in wildnerness portion of TRNP

Rain pillars in wildnerness portion of TRNP. Photo #12 by Mary Brazell / NPS

'Warning unstable area' at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

‘Warning unstable area’ for viewing, hiking, or exploring the landscape. Photo #13 by joevare

Painted Canyons, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Painted Canyons, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Photo #15 by steve_h

Cannon Ball Concretion Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Cannon Ball Concretion: According to NPS, “This boulder is known as a ‘concretion’. The concretions are formed within sedementary rocks such as shale or sandstone. They form as minerals are deposited around a core. As the surrounding rocks erode, the ‘cannon balls’ become exposed.” Photo #16 by M. Readey

'campground host' - bison visit the Cottonwood campground at TRNP

‘Campground host’ – bison visit the Cottonwood campground. Photo #17 by S Nystrom / NPS

Badlands Postcard

This picture could be a postcard of the Badlands. Photo #18 by Jellaluna

A juvenile bison at Theodore Roosevelt National ParK 'Getting old enough to shave'

The photographer said of this juvenile bison, “Getting old enough to shave.” Photo #19 by Nic McPhee

A coyote patrols through a prairie dog town while feral horses graze

A coyote patrols through a prairie dog town while feral horses graze. Photo #20 by NPS

Early morning at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Early morning at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo #21 by Chiot’s Run

Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

More feral horses. Watching the wildlife is one of the highlight attractions of visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo #22 by Chiot’s Run

Landscape Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Not another soul in sight, making it seem like it could still almost be the Wild West. Photo #23 by Chris

Little Missouri River at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit), North Dakota

The Little Missouri River at the North Unit. The park is fenced to stop the bison, wild feral horses, and cattle from getting out of the park, but other animals like deer, elk, and pronghorn can jump over or go under the fence. Photo #24 by joevare

ornery bison

The photographer wrote, “Another of the ornery bison that tried to interfere with my hike at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I got my revenge by taking a picture while his mouth was full :-).” Photo #25 by Nic McPhee

rock formations at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt said of these bizarre rock formations, “The Badlands grade all the way from those that are almost rolling in character to those that are so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth.” Photo #26 by steve_h

Panorama Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Panorama of the park. Photo #27 by Chris

Rocky Mountain mule deer -- Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Rocky Mountain mule deer. Photo #28 by Matt Reinbold

TRNP badlands winter

Brrr! North Dakota winter coats the badlands in snow. Photo #29 by Nathan King / NPS

TRNP maintains a small group of longhorn steers

The park maintains a small group of longhorn steers. Photo #30 by Nathan King / NPS

TRNP Cannonball Concretions

TRNP Cannonball Concretions. Photo #31 by Mary Brazell / NPS

Winter at the Maltese Cross Cabin -- Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Winter at the Maltese Cross Cabin where Roosevelt first came in 1883 to hunt buffalo. Roosevelt said, “I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision…I enjoyed the life to the full.” Photo #32 by Nathan King / NPS

TRNP historic Maltese Cross Cabin's kitchen

The historic Maltese Cross Cabin’s kitchen. Photo #33 by NPS

Back to the land of his forebears TRNP Bison

The photographer noted, “A member of the bison herds at Theadore Roosevelt National Park, a reminder of the huge herds that once migrated across the Midwest.” Photo #34 by Nic McPhee

Sunset Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Sunset at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo #35 by GreenLight Designs (jwgreen)


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