September 18 – 23, 2020.
I had never heard about Theodore Roosevelt National Park until this past winter. We were in Southern California at the time and North Dakota where the park is located seemed so far away. Never-the-less I marked it with a little star on my map just in case we ever got up that way.
Then the pandemic changed all our lives and we ended following an unplanned path to North Dakota.
I find it interesting that we have a National Park named after a US President. It seems like a risky thing these days to honor anyone from times that were not quite as enlightened as the ones we live in now. We have written about Teddy before. The Buffalo Soldiers that we met in Arizona this past winter didn’t appreciate him taking credit for charging up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War when in fact it was Kettle Hill he rode to the top of. But this park wasn’t named for Roosevelt’s self-aggrandizing personality or the way he treated other people. This park was named to honor his love of the land and his legacy of conservation.
Theodore Roosevelt first came to the badlands of Dakota Territory to hunt bison, six years before North Dakota would become a state in 1883. During this brief visit, he fell in love with the land and bought a ranch. The following year both his wife and mother died. Seeking solitude and time to come to terms with his loss he returned to the land he had become enamored with the previous year. That summer he bought the Elkhorn Ranch which would become part of a national park in his honor 25 years after his death in 1919.
Roosevelt cited his experiences in the Dakotas for his preservation efforts as president of the US from 1901-09. He created the US Forest Service and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act under which he designated 18 national monuments. He worked with Congress to create 5 national parks, 150 national forests, 51 bird reserves, and 4 game reserves.
The park has three units. Over 6 days we visited two, the South United and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. I suppose one of the main attractions of this park is the panoramic views of the badlands. But honestly, I was overwhelmed by the wildlife. And the petrified wood was stunning.
This week I will be sharing this post on My Corner of the World, Travel Tuesday, Saturday’s Critters, and Sharon’s Souvenirs. Check out these links to see what other people are doing all over the world.