Located in western North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is where Teddy came in 1883 to become a cattle rancher prior to his political career. The park is divided into a North and South Unit (in different Time Zones), each with impressive vistas and wildlife. It is home to a demonstration herd of longhorn steers and free-ranging wild horses, plus reintroduced bison, bighorn sheep, and elk.
Historic cabin, scenic views, wildlife, hiking
Teddy Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross cabin was relocated to the park’s South Unit visitor center. Continue on the 36-mile paved scenic loop road, which is easily accessible off Interstate 94.
Wind Canyon Loop Trail in the South Unit is less than half a mile in length but offers an opportunity to walk on the eroding slopes of the badlands and an excellent vista of the Little Missouri River.
Cannonball concretions are sandstone spheres formed by groundwater and can be seen only in the North Unit badlands.
Originally designated a National Monument in 1922, the area surrounding 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak became a National Park in 1986. This park is so remote that moonless nights offer some of the darkest skies you will see in your entire life. Plan to stay multiple nights to walk along the scenic Alpine Lakes Loop Trail, summit the peak, visit Lexington Arch, hike through a grove of ancient trees, and take a guided tour of Lehman Caves.
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, Lehman Caves, Lexington Arch, bristlecone pine trees
Pass through ancient bristlecone pine trees on your hike to the only remaining glacier in the state of Nevada. This park was once home to the oldest single-stem tree in the world with nearly 5,000 annual rings (a cross-section is on display at the Great Basin Visitor Center). It was killed by a researcher who cut it down to count it in 1964, but he then became a major advocate for creating the national park.
Lexington Arch is located down a long dirt road, the first nine miles of which are passable by any vehicle, but the final two miles require four-wheel-drive. From the trailhead, the hike is 1.7-miles one-way, for a total round trip of 7.4 miles if you park where we did. Lexington Arch is an impressive 60 feet tall and its limestone structure is unique since most arches are sandstone.
Gnarled branches of bristlecone pine trees reach for the sky at 10,000 feet in elevation. Wheeler Peak provides a great backdrop for them.
Summer, with September a great time of year to visit for changing colors in the aspen stands. Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive closes in winter.