North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Smoke


After hours of driving through remote – and I mean remote – farmland, we made it to Dickinson, North Dakota for our visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

IMG_4026I wasn’t sure if this lesser known park would be worth the effort to get there, but it definitely was. First of all, it had one of the best history displays I have seen at any national park visitor center (and we’ve visited about 20 so far). This offered an excellent depiction of Theodore Roosevelt’s time living in North Dakota and how it changed his life and, in his view, led to his becoming president. The display had the bloody shirt Roosevelt wore when he was shot in a failed assassination attempt, rifles he used and photos of his Elkhorn ranch. IMG_4021You could also tour his actual three-room Maltese Cross cabin, which includes his trunk and his desk. Lee particularly enjoyed it as he had watched the PBS documentary on The Roosevelts not that long ago.

The park itself is in my mind a prettier version of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It’s the same otherworldly rock formations and spirals but with trees and green grass. Much nicer than the barren desert. We saw some spectacular views of wide open spaces filled with buttes of pink, gray, brown, orange and every color in between. I also saw a few of the park’s famous wild horses but the rest of my family missed it as we quickly made another turn up the winding road.

We were so glad that it had rained the previous night and the skies were clear and the temperatures cool. Unfortunately by the afternoon, thick smoke from the forest fires in Saskatchewan filled the air making it impossible to spend any time outside. I ended up taking the boys to the wonderful West River Community Center Pool, which included a great kiddie water slide plus fountains and waterfalls. Once again, I am impressed by the amazing public facilities you can find in these small towns. Kudos to the people of Dickinson, N.D. for providing this to their community.

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