Theodore Roosevelt National Park is so pretty! We really enjoyed our short time in the park and were surprised at all this park has to offer. It is one of the lesser visited parks, so here you can find solitude and calmness, unlike many other national parks. Also, since there are less people around, you will be more likely to see wildlife, such as bison, wild horses, and prairie dogs. Seeing sunset here was the highlight of our visit here and highlight of visiting North Dakota. Read further to see the best sunset viewing place in the park!
About Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in North Dakota. It is the only National Park directly named after a person. It is named after Theodore Roosevelt because the area of the park is an area that was treasured by the former president. He was an advocate for conservation, so it is fitting that a park protecting beautiful land is named after him.
The entire park covers around 110 square miles. The park consists of 3 units, the largest of which being the South unit. Wildlife viewing is one of the most popular things to do in the park, but there are also many hiking trails and things to see. Overall, this park has a lot to offer regardless of your interests!
How to Get to Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The nearest town to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is Medora, North Dakota (see more about Medora, ND below!) Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in western North Dakota.
Distance from Rapid City, South Dakota to Theodore Roosevelt National Park: 250 miles, 4 hours
Distance from Devil’s Tower, Wyoming to Theodore Roosevelt National Park: 220 miles, 3.5 hours
Distance from Fargo, North Dakota to Theodore Roosevelt National Park: 320 miles, 4.5 hours
Distance from Billings, Montana to Theodore Roosevelt National Park: 280 miles, 4 hours
Where to Stay Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park
In the Park
Cottonwood Campground is the only campground in the southern unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There are 76 sites her and can either be booked online at recreation.gov or are first come first serve. Even though there are first come first serve sites, I recommend booking in advance so that you can secure a spot since National Park campgrounds tend to fill up fast. The campground is in a low lying and flat, and would make a great place to stay if you plan on camping.
Outside the Park
Medora, North Dakota
Medora is the biggest town close to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is a super cute town, one that President Theodore Roosevelt passed through and thoroughly enjoyed. There are several lodging options in Medora. Rough Riders Hotel is one of the most historic hotels in Medora. Rates at the Rough Riders Hotel begin around $150 per night. Another hotel option is the Badlands Motel, which has good ratings and starts around $130 per night. While staying in Medora, we stayed at the Elkhorn Quarters, which we really liked! It was recently updated and has nice features. Rates start around $100 per night. Whichever place you stay in Medora, you can’t go wrong.
**When you drive through Medora, we really recommend stopping at Hidden Springs Java for a great cup of coffee 🙂
The Best Place to See the Sunset: Wind Canyon
There’s just something about a good sunset. An sunsets in North Dakota are beautiful with the wide open spacious skies. All of the colors of red, yellow, pink, orange, and purple all blending together and painting the sky. To see the sunset in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we walked the Wind Canyon Trail to a perfect viewpoint.
Wind Canyon is the best place to see the sunset in Theodore Roosevelt National Park or possibly even in North Dakota. The Wind Canyon Trail is a 0.3 mile trail that walks along the Wind Canyon out to a vista of the Little Missouri River and miles of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The canyon walls are smooth from years of wind sanding down the stone. Follow the trail along the canyon wall until it opens up and you can see a wide and shallow river down below in the canyon. This river is the Little Missouri River. At dusk, around the time of sunset, you can often see wildlife such as deer or bison, drinking from the river, unaware that people are watching from up above.
The vista point faces the west where the sun sets. Facing this way, you can watch the colors of light dance along the cliffs before vanishing as the sun dips over the horizon. Watch the colors of the sky change and flow. The sky is so large that it’s humbling. If the sky is clear, behind you, opposite of the sun, you may even be able to see the moon behind you.
Keep in mind that this trail is dirt and can be dusty at times. There are also some steps on the trail. This trail is doable for most people. Be careful while on the trail as some sections pass closely to the edge of the canyon’s cliffs. Wearing appropriate footwear and clothing can help you to enjoy your hike. Also, be prepared with a flashlight and directions so that you are able to safely return to your car after the sun sets.
-On your way into the park, see the Bison and the Prairie Dog Town. If you drive into Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit from Medora, to get to the Wind Canyon Trail, you will pass the Prairie Dog Town and some areas where bison herds typically like to stay. The bison are so majestic and ginormous! Do not approach the bison and watch them from a distance. The prairie dogs are very cute and playful. It is fun to watch them play with each other and make their distinct “chirping” sound.
-Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a great national park to visit if you plan on visiting other nearby national parks such as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, Badlands National Park in South Dakota, or Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. See my guides for these parks here!
Have you visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park? Were you able to see sunset at Theodore Roosevelt National Park? Let me know any thoughts or comments you have down below!
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