North Dakota Badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Top choice in North Dakota

A tortured region known as the 'badlands' 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. The park is vast, with only the rush of rivers and the distant hoof beat of animals to interrupt the silence.

The park is divided into two sections and has three visitor centers, including the more substantial South Unit Visitor Center with Theodore Roosevelt's old cabin out back. Many visitors to the South Unit opt for the 36-mile scenic drive that begins in Medora, an appealing resort town with motels and lodges that most use as a base for exploration.

The North Unit, which is off US 85, gets few visitors. However it's 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.