The Theodore Roosevelt National Park only gets a few hundred thousands visits each year and it is tucked away in North Dakota right along Interstate-94.

As you’re driving along I-94 you can only get a few quick glimpses of the park. There is a pull out section that is only open during the summer months that gives you a grand view. It includes 2 trails and a visitor center.

One of the trails is the called the Painted Canyon Nature Trail. Once you get started it is an immediate step down to the valley. In total, you step down 256 feet. And remember when you go down you must come up. This trail is a loop of 0.9 mi and it does contain a lot of stairs. Be sure to bring plenty of water.

View from the top of the Painted Canyon Nature Trail.
View from the top of the Painted Canyon Nature Trail.

When you’re at the bottom, you’ll be in the valley and you can touch rocks and perhaps see some wildlife… such as buffalo… or snakes…

The best part will be the view along the way. This view changes during every season in North Dakota. Sometimes it’s full of snow, lots of green and yellow in the summer, and then the changing colors in between the off seasons.

The Painted Canyon is just one trail you can hike on. The main entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a few more miles ahead (west) alond I-94 and is located in the quaint town of Medora. Medora sets you back in time, within the cowboy era. It’s a good place to stay if you’re spending the night at the park.

Otherwise, the park entrance is just ahead and once your in the park you will be greeted with another visitor center or you can keep going along the park road.

The entire National Park is generally one big 36 mile loop that is 100% scenic.

Throughout the loop you can take stops and grab of few pictures of the view or do a few of the hiking trails. Be careful through because it is probably likely that you will see some buffalo at some point along the way.

Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and getting a view of the Little Missouri River.
Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and getting a view of the Little Missouri River.

While you’re out hiking you will get a view of the rolling hills, grasslands, and buttes. Nature really out does itself here in this park. There aren’t really too many ‘big’ hiking trails within the park, as most are under 1 mile in length… such as the Painted Canyon Nature Trail, but there is still more than enough to do. Other trails overlook other canyons and you can get a view of the Little Missouri River.

The options are endless in this park.

And if you’re up for it after the 36 miles loop, you can take another drive and head to the North Unit. The part that was just explained was the South Unit and the main area of the park, however, this National Park is split into two sections and just 68 miles north you can find the North Unit.

Wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The North Unit is also packed full of buffalo, prairie dogs, wild horses, and hiking trails… upon loads of picturesque photo opportunities.

Overall, if National Parks are your thing or you’re just looking to get out, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a great way to do so. There is so much to do in North Dakota and this is surely just one option you can do.