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Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness

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Looking past a large tree trunk to an open forest beyond, surrounded by a bed of dense green undergrowth.
Library image #698: Cottonwood bottom, Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Introduction

The United States Congress designated Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness (map) in 1978 and it now has a total of 29,920 acres. All of this wilderness is located in North Dakota and is managed by the National Park Service.

Description

Divided into three units along the Little Missouri River, Theodore Roosevelt National Park encompasses 70,000 acres in the heart of the scenic North Dakota badlands. Eons ago, when the Rocky Mountains emerged, material washed off the range and was deposited here, forming a plain. Centuries of wind and rain carved the badlands into the broken, colorful splendor of today's badlands. Theodore Roosevelt himself had a cattle ranch here in the 1880s, and the ranch headquarters is preserved in the small Elkhorn Ranch Unit of the park. The park bears the former president's name in honor of his experiences in the badlands and his conservation legacy.

The park preserves outstanding badlands geology, a petrified forest, mixed-grass prairie, and a wide variety of wildlife species. The Little Missouri River unites the three units of the park - the North Unit, South Unit, and Elkhorn Ranch Unit.

Much of the South Unit west of the river and most of the North Unit is Congressionally designated Wilderness, and the park provides a home for a multitude of wildlife including bison, elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, coyotes, prairie dogs, sharp-tailed grouse and eagles.

Ninety-five miles of trails offer ample opportunity for solitude, as most visitors stay on park roads and in established campgrounds.

In spring, when snowmelt fills the river, paddling can be excellent, although water levels vary and it is sometimes difficult to plan ahead.

Planning to Visit Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.



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