Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

July 21-22, 2006

by Jess Stryker

Click on any photo for a larger image. Hold mouse pointer over photos for descriptions.

We visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota July 21-22, 2006. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is divided into 3 sections, the most visited south Section, the less visited North Section, and the even less visited Elkhorn Ranch Unit. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit is the site of one of two ranches Roosevelt owned in the area, and requires a long drive on dirt roads followed by a 3 mile hike to reach. We did not visit the Ranch Unit on our trip, however we did visit both the north and south units.

North Unit, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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The North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.
Due to it's distance from the nearest freeway the North Unit gets very few visitors.

 

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The bridge over the Little Missouri River just outside of the North Unit entrance.

 

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Bison sitting on the side of the road. We saw more wildlife along the first mile of road at the North Unit than we saw during an entire day at the South Unit!

 

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These round rocks are called Cannonball Concretions. They were formed when minerals in the groundwater cemented sand grains together. A bit like an oyster forms a pearl. Erosion later exposed the round rocks as the surrounding soft sandstone washed away.

 

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My wife, Julie, looks at a group of "cannonballs".

 

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This stone shelter at the River Bend Overlook was built by the CCC in 1937.

 

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Julie on the viewing deck of the shelter at the River Bend Overlook.

 

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Panoramic view taken from the viewing deck of the stone shelter at the River Bend Overlook of the Little Missouri River. This 180 degree image is made from several photos merged together.
You will need to scroll your browser window to view the entire full size image.

 

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This CCC constructed picnic shelter is at the Juniper Picnic area, where we had a picnic lunch.

 

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Rock fireplace in the picnic shelter above.

 

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Enjoying our lunch! As you can see, we had the place to ourselves.

 

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Beavers chewed the bark off this trees.

 

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Another CCC constructed shelter at the picnic area.

 

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A very friendly bunny on the Little Mo Nature Trail.

 

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These are called Concretion Rain Pillars. Rain has eroded away the softer sandstone leaving a "caprock" on top of a sandstone pedestal.

 

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The prairie grasslands. The Little Missouri River cuts through these grasslands. Most of the photos above were taken in the river canyon. This is what you see for miles in each direction from the top of the canyon if you look away from the river.

 

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Panoramic view taken from the Oxbow Overlook of the Little Missouri River. This 180 degree image is made from several photos merged together.
You will need to scroll your browser window to view the full size image.

 


South Unit, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota is much more populated with visitors than the North Unit. The south unit sits alongside Interstate 94 outside the town of Medora.

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Shortly after driving into the South Unit you come across a large prairie dog town. Here's one of the little critters.

 

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Jess terrorizing the wildlife! (Photo by Julie.)

 

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This area has coal layers in the ground. Sometimes the coal catches on fire, when it does the heat bakes the surrounding soil, turning it into a red-color rock called clinker. Locally they call this rock scoria.

 

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These cone-shaped buttes are formed where a hard rock layer protected the underlying sandstone. As the sandstone eroded away a cone shaped butte results.

 

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Overlook of the North Dakota Badlands.

 

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You can see a dark color coal seam at the base of this butte.

 

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Julie next to a twisted Juniper (Juniperous scopulorum) on the Coal Vein Trail. This trail goes through an area where a underground coal seam caught fire in 1951. It burned for 26 years.

 

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Interesting patterns in the exposed rock.

 

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A large outcrop of clinker at the end of the Coal Vein Trail.

 

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Some interesting pillars.

 

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Panoramic view taken from the top of Buck Hill. This 360+ degree image (if you scroll all the way to the right you will notice
the same people sitting on the bluff that are on the left end of the photo) is made from several photos merged together.
You will need to scroll your browser window to view the full size image.

 

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A petrified tree stump.

 

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A petrified log.

 

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Wind Canyon. Wind blown sand from the river bed sandblasted the rock in this canyon giving it a very smooth surface.

 

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Hillside covered with rain pillars.

 

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Historic 1880's ranch building at Peaceful Valley Ranch. This ranch served as the park headquarters at one time. It now is a riding stable.

 

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It was very hot during our visit- temperatures near 100 degrees F. This rabbit was sacked out on the lawn in a picnic area.
It watched us, but was just too hot to move. We could appreciate how it felt!

 

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This is the Maltese Cross Ranch cabin. Much of the park was originally a cattle ranch owned by young Theodore Roosevelt,
who went on to became the 26th president of the USA. He lived in this cabin at the ranch.

 

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Main room of the Maltese Cross cabin.

 

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Different shot of same room as above.

 

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Different shot of same room as above.

 

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The right side of the very small bedroom in the cabin.

 

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Left side of the same bedroom.

 

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The cabin kitchen.

 

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Theodore Roosevelt.

 

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Theodore Roosevelt was the inspiration for the Teddy Bear. This is a Teddy Bear I picked up at the park gift shop.
I couldn't resist a Teddy Bear that actually looks like Roosevelt.

 

Medora, North Dakota

I'm basically including Medora here as a brief lesson in architecture and town planning. I don't think many of you will have any problem figuring out what is architecturally wrong here.

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Medora is a small, historic town at the entrance to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
It is a bit of a tourist trap, but still interesting to walk around, with lots of shops and good restaurants.

 

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Have you notice the architectural theme of the town? Think "historic western". All of the buildings fit the theme... well almost!

 

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This is the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, right in the historic district of Medora next to the park entrance.
Yes, they built this modern style box right across the street from those western theme buildings in the photos above.
What were they thinking? It brings to mind a classic cowboy expression; "get a rope!!!"

 


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Thank you for viewing our trip photos and putting up with my (Jess) sometimes caustic commentary. We hope you enjoyed them and they help motivate you to get out and enjoy the beauty of God's creation!

Jess & Julie

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Text and Images by Jess Stryker. Copyright © Jess Stryker, 2006. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for student use of photos for non-profit school/class projects.