"" Writer's Wanderings: Road Trip 2015 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Always looking for places to stop and take a break from long drives, I spotted the Theodore Roosevelt National Park along the way from Jamestown, ND to Glasgow, MT. This was one of the longer stretches of our trip, six and a half hours, so the opportunity to stop about midway was not to be missed for both of us. Besides, Bob would be able to get an extra stamp in his National Park Passport.

Theodore Roosevelt used to hunt bison in this Dakota Territory in 1883. He became interested in cattle ranching as well and eventually owned two cattle ranches. When his wife and mother died, he thought he would make Elkhorn, the second ranch, his home. It was finished in 1885 and the men who ran his ranch for him moved into the site. After a couple of disastrous years and with Roosevelt now living in New York, he sold the ranch in 1898. By 1901 however, the Elkhorn ranch had been stripped down to its bare foundations.

Today, you can visit the land where the ranch once was and the foundation of the original ranch house is visible but nothing has been done to reconstruct the structure. The ranch is about 35 miles north of the town that sits just outside the park, Medora.

We did not want to add too much time to our travel day so we stopped only at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center that was just off I-94. It has a spectacular view of the North Dakota Badlands that Roosevelt fell in love with and not too far away we had passed several bison grazing.

It is only fitting that Theodore Roosevelt have a national park in his name. During his presidency he fought for conservation and urged the creation of the Forest Service in 1905 to manage government-owned forest reserves. He also exercised presidential authority to set aside land to be protected. In his years as president, he set aside more lands than his predecessors combined, 194 million acres. Acres we are enjoying today.


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