Many refer to the North Dakota Badlands as “The Land God Forgot”. This vast dry area used to have river flowing past enormous rocks. Combined with the force of wind and sand, the river had been able to carve stunning and unique rock formations that the Badlands are best known for today.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Two parks offer the best scenery and access to the North Dakota Badlands and one of them is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park is comprised of over 70,000 acres of land and divided into three areas: the North and South Units and the Elkhorn Ranch in between.
Within the South Unit is a thirty-six mile drive that will take you past some of the best sceneries of North Dakota and through the historic town of Medora. The South Unit is also home to Teddy Roosevelt’s cabin and a 27-room mansion named Chateau De Mores, which was built in the late 1800’s. If you’re in the mood to test your swing, the Bully Pulpit Golf Course offers you the chance to combine golf with scenic walks.
Seventy miles from the South Unit is the North Unit, located in close proximity to the Watford City and offering the best views of the North Dakota Badlands and the River Bend Overlook in particular.
In between these two units are the Elkhorn and Maltese Cross Ranch, which Theodore Roosevelt had built when he visited the state in 1883 on a hunting trip.
Exploring the park is best done on horseback or foot as some of the most scenic areas of the park are not accessible by car. Exercise both caution and patience and you will soon be rewarded by glimpses of resting bison as well as playful badgers and many other wildlife species.
Little Missouri State Park
Little Missouri Breaks Country was referred to by Sioux Indians as “Mako Shika”. It meant ‘where the land breaks’, an apt description for the astoundingly beautiful formations that the forces of nature had created throughout the years.
As with the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Little Missouri offers the best views of the North Dakota Badlands but most of the trails leading to the Badlands may only be accessed on horseback or on foot.
If you set out late in the day, don’t worry as both the Little Missouri State Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park offer accommodations for campers and RV trailers.