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Theodore Roosevelt

National Parks

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park is America's best kept secret. If you want to spend your vacation someplace different, someplace everyone you know hasn't already been and most have never even heard of, this is it. But once you actually get here, you discover quite a package. The park is a geologic wonderland, with grotesque erosional formations around every bend in the road. It's a huge game preserve, hosting herds of buffalo, wild horses, elk, antelope, mule deer and prairie dogs, along with several dozen birds, snakes, horned toads and other creatures. It is a historical monument to the father of the conservation movement, Teddy Roosevelt, who came out here as a sickly, asthma crippled 20 year old, became a cowboy, hunter and cattle rancher, organized a troop of cowboys into the Rough Riders, led them on the famous charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War, successfully ran for President, and spent the rest of his life crusading for parks like this.

Theodore Roosevelt is an outdoorsman's dream. It offers some of the greatest trails in America for hiking, backpacking, horseback riding and bicycling, and a river that for three months in the Spring offers one of America's greatest multi day canoe trips. Finally, the park offers solitude. There's nobody here. It is especially empty in the shoulder months of May and September, when you may literally be the only one on the road or on the trail. It is possible to drive the 37 mile loop road through the Southern Unit and not see another car. But it's out on the long foot trails that you really find isolation. You can complete a three day back packing trip and never even see a candy wrapper, let alone another person.

Actually, the word "park" is used rather loosely in North Dakota. Teddy Roosevelt is a sprawling area of national park, national glassland, wilderness area, national historical site and private ranchland. To fully experience the area, you need to set foot on all five. You'll also learn a little about the oil industry. And the frontier town of Medora is a little gem all by itself. Gateway to the park, Medora contains a bike rental agency, stable, motels, visitor center, museums, school, several restaurants, gift shops and a gas station. Thanks to the Medora Foundation, which controls the town business policies, all architecture must conform to the 1880-1900 style, meaning lots of logs, horseshoes and boardwalks.

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