Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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American bison bull near the Ridgeline Trail. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Theodore Roosevelt first visited the Dakota territory in 1883 and had no idea he was on the verge of a life-changing experience. His wife and mother had both recently died on the same day, and to escape his pain he headed west. One of the activities this young, urban New Yorker pursued to take his mind off things was to hunt one of the last American bison (Artiodactyla: Bovidae: Bison bison) before they potentially went extinct.

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American bison near Beef Corral Bottom. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Along the way Roosevelt established a ranch in what would become North Dakota and developed a respect for the “strenuous life” and “perfect freedom” of the west. He also cultivated an awareness for the negative effects people were having on our few remaining wild areas.  As a result of these experiences he would spend the rest of his life working to preserve American wilderness for all people.

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Painted Canyon photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

From his ascension to US President in 1901 until his death in 1919, Theodore Roosevelt was a champion of conservation. He helped create the US Forest Service, approved the 1906 Antiquities Act, and established 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, 51 Federal Bird Reservations, and 4 National Game Preserves. He placed 230 million acres of sensitive land under federal protection and became known as the “Conservationist President.”

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President Theodore Roosevelt and conservationist John Muir standing on Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park, California in 1906.

The area of  North Dakota that Teddy Roosevelt so loved was eventually placed under federal protection itself. First designated as Roosevelt Recreation Demonstration Area in 1935, this land along the Little Missouri River would ultimately become Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1978.

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Little Missouri River near Wind Canyon. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Today this park preserves Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch as well as two larger north and south units, together covering over 70,000 acres. The area encompasses part of North Dakota’s scenic badlands…

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Badlands near Boicourt Overlook. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

…prairies…

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Prairie from the Ridgeline Trail. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

..and canyons:

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Wind Canyon photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

The wilderness supports a great deal of animal life including American bison…

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American bison near Paddock Creek. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

…feral horses…

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Feral horses near Boicourt Overlook. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

…and black-tailed prairie dogs:

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Black-tailed prairie dog near Peaceful Valley. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Wildflowers are also common on the prairie:

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Aster near the Medora Visitor Center. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

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Wild bergamot photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

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Shrubby cinquefoil photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

The national, natural, and cultural significance of Theodore Roosevelt National Park can’t be understated. Combined with the scenic prairies and badlands and the animals and plants they nurture, this park is one of the most uniquely impressive in the country. Although one of the more remote and lesser-known parks in the lower 48 states, I personally consider this park among the best.

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Little Missouri River near Wind Canyon. Photographed 08/08/2014 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, National Parks, Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Theodore Roosevelt National Park

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Great shots and fascinating information about the park. I couldn’t help but think of the opening words of “Home on the Range” when I saw your first shot, “Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam….”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. trughost says:

    You have some great photos! I love the little prairie dog! Keep up the good work!

    Like

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