The following several posts will be about the National Parks or National Monuments of the Great Plains. Moving from north to south, we will begin in North Dakota with Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the pride of North Dakota. It’s big, scenic, and brimming with wildlife. The park is named, of course, for our 26th President, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who visited this area in 1883 as a young man, and was so taken with it that he later said, “It was here that the romance of my life began.”
Located in far western North Dakota, the park consists of two separate units connected by the Little Missouri National Grassland. The South Unit of the park tends to be the more popular of the two due to its location just off Interstate 94. Both units contain badlands, buttes, sweeping vistas, and might I add, some of the biggest specimens of buffalo to be found anywhere.
On my (so far) only trip to the park some years back, I came face to face with an enormous buffalo while taking a very short hike not far from the campground. As I rounded a corner through some tall sage, there he was, as big as a house, at a distance of no more than 10 yards. Some people may think that 10 yards is not very close, but having spent a number of years in Grand Teton National Park (a park with its own small herd of the large shaggy beasts), I developed a healthy respect for the creatures. I find them to be magnificent and noble, but I have no desire to give one a hug. (This is consistent with all park service advice on the matter).
At any rate, it’s a wonderful (and not too crowded) park that lacks for none of the grandeur that signifies the great national parks of the West. This is one of the best examples of what the Great Plains is all about!