A tortured land known as the 'badlands' and whose colors seem to change with the moods of nature, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the state's natural highlight. Bizarre rock formations, streaked with a rainbow of red, yellow, brown, black and silver minerals, are framed by green prairie.
Roosevelt described this area as 'a land of vast, silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horsemen,' and it's hard to describe the place better even today. Wildlife is still everywhere: mule deer, wild horses, bighorn sheep, elk, bison, around 200 bird species and, of course, sprawling subterranean prairie-dog towns.
The park is divided into sections:
South Unit Most visitors opt for the 36-mile scenic drive that begins in Medora, an enjoyable town just off I-94. Prairie dogs are a highlight.
North Unit Gets few visitors but is well worth the journey for the 14-mile drive to the Oxbow Overlook, with its wide views into the vast and colorfully striated river canyon. The verdant surrounds are protected as the Little Missouri National Grassland and bison are everywhere. It is 68 miles north of I-94 on US 85.
The park has three visitor centers, including the South Unit visitor center, with Theodore Roosevelt's old cabin out back. The park has two simple campgrounds and free backcountry camping (permit required).
Hikers can explore 85 miles of backcountry trails. For a good adventure, hike or cycle the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail between the park units. Driving, continue north on US 85 to Fort Buford.