(701) 623-4466


North Dakota's Best Idea — Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Spring 2017 Newsletter

Download PDF

The Founders Day celebration in 2016 was extra special as it coordinated with the US Mint officially releasing the Theodore Roosevelt National Park quarter. The Mint released the quarter at a special ceremony at Painted Canyon. The scenic overlook provided a dramatic background for the event that was attended by dignitaries and area school children.


Quarters were dumped into a beautiful bowl created by FOTRNP board member, Tama Smith, owner of Prairie Fire Pottery in Beach and children in attendance each received a quarter. Rolls of quarters where then sold at the event. Friends of TRNP assisted with transportation to Painted Canyon and art tents set up for the kids to paint mural of objects found in the park. They put their handprints on the back of the canvases.


Later in the day we also served cookies and lemonade outside the Visitor Center at the park to celebrate Founders Day.

L to R: Marlene Frei, Mike Hanson, Don Frye, Lorrie Pavlicek, Deb Zillich, Lisa Omlid, Larry Heilmann, Tama Smith (not pictured Pat Ashley)

Petrified Forest Hike

L to R: Deb Zillich, Dale Hansen, Marie Anderson, Glenice Hansen, David Anderson, Lorrie Pavlicek, Don Frye

Taking part in National Trails Day, Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park led a hike to the Petrified Forest on June 4th. Board member, Deb Zillich led the group on a beautiful Saturday morning. New board members, Lorrie Pavlicek and Don Frye joined her, along with Kevin Charbonneau, Dale and Glenice Hansen, and Marie and David Anderson.


The loop trail is 10.5 miles long but choosing to hike 1.5 miles either left or right on the trail takes you to the petrified wood that makes up the Petrified Forest. We took the trail to the left and hiked over the hills to come upon the glory of the beautiful Petrified Forest. The geology of this area is amazing with large stumps millions of years old. We spent some time exploring the unique petrified pieces before we headed back to the trailhead and parking lot.


We had a humorous mishap on our adventure. As we started our return trip the front sole of Deb’s hiking boot began flapping like a clown shoe! Glenice Hansen came to her rescue with a bandanna, which she used to tie the front of her shoe to the sole. This worked until the last couple hundred yards when the whole sole fell off and she walked with a moccasin footed insole. If anyone has not been out to the Petrified Forest, it is well worth the trip. You can stop by the Visitor Center at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and get directions at the information desk.

Many North Dakotans love their national park, but few are truly engaged with the park and its issues. Young people have not been well engaged, but in the past year the park has seen more youth and families visit. The Friends Group hopes to help capitalize on both the recent Ken Burns film and the resurgence of family visitors and help to inspire other young people to get to know the park. In addition, we hope to help the park reach other under-served groups, including those who often take Theodore Roosevelt National Park for granted.

A Busy Summer and Fall at the Park

The park had a very busy and successful summer and fall. Visitation for 2016 was at 701,008 by the end of October; the total for the entirety of 2016 was 753,880. The NPS Centennial celebration kept us very busy with events:


• The park conducted a bison roundup in the North Unit during the week of October 16. The current bison population in the North Unit is just above 200.


• Because of the peculiarities of our hiring system, we were short staffed for the summer season, but we worked together and accomplished a lot.


• Current external concerns include Hwy. 85, the proposed refinery near Fryburg, and proposed wind farms in the area.


•The park’s first BioBlitz was held on June 24 & 25, with exceptional help from Dickinson State University faculty, who took the lead in collecting data.


• The US Mint created a set of 16 National Park Service Centennial stamps; our park was one of those featured. The release event was on June 2; about 100 people attended.


• Our biggest Centennial event was the release of the North Dakota America the Beautiful quarter, featuring the park. The reverse has an image of TR on horseback in the badlands. The event at Painted Canyon on August 25 was attended by over 850 people.


• Despite two days of rain, the annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival on September 23-25 was again a success. Moon rocks from NASA were on display in the South Unit Visitor Center on Saturday and Sunday and there were activities for all ages.


• Our guest speakers delivered their program at the Old Town Hall in Medora on the first two nights. Sunday brought a beautiful sunny day and clear skies for star gazing in the evening. About 600 people attended over the 2 1/2 days of the festival. Thanks to the Friends for manning the rocket sales and your ongoing support.


Total Visitation for 2016: 753,880

Introducing New Board Members of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

David Schwalbe

Eric is a Professor of Geology and Soils at Dickinson State University. He grew up in Minot and his first trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park was a field trip with his 8th grade Earth Science class. Eric completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology at UND before attending Iowa State University to obtain his Ph.D.


Theodore Roosevelt National Park was a major inspiration to Eric in choosing his life’s profession, and has continued to be a special place for him. From 2001-2007 Eric was on the GeoSciences faculty at Valdosta State University in Georgia, and in 2003 he brought students all the way from Georgia to ND to study the state’s geology, including time in TRNP. Eric returned to ND in August 2007 and each spring volunteers to provide geology training for seasonal rangers at TRNP. In addition, Eric served as a geology content expert for the National Park Service geologic resource inventories of Knife River Indian Villages and Fr Union Trading Post.


Eric calls Theodore Roosevelt National Park “a jewel in western North Dakota’s crown”.

Dr. Paul Barnhart

Dr. Paul Barnhart was born and raised in Springfield Missouri and moved to Bismarck with his family at the age of 10. He obtained an undergraduate degree from NDSU with an emphasis on wildlife management. Paul continued his education in graduate school at NDSU and obtained a PhD in Environmental and Conservation Science with his dissertation focused on the behavioral ecology of North Dakota bat species. He now is an Assistant Professor of Biology in the Natural Sciences Department at Dickinson State University. Through his graduate career, Paul spent the vast majority of his time in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and was the first person to identify several bat species in the state of North Dakota and is also credited with the discovery of the first hibernacula in North Dakota. Paul also has several peer-reviewed publication detailing his work on bats in the park. His time spent in Theodore Roosevelt National Park was very influential in his development as an ecological researcher. The uniqueness and awe-inspiration of the badlands region contributed to Paul working at Dickinson State University as it allowed closer access to this remarkable landscape. Paul currently has research permits with Theodore Roosevelt National Park and continues to work for the continued conservation of the natural resources within the park boundaries and beyond.


Paul states: “My love for this unique landscape has greatly shaped the person I am today. The beauty of Theodore Roosevelt National park has obviously inspired many to be more conservationally aware, and that to me is the most important aspect of the park. For every one hundred children that visit, if just one is inspired to protect the natural world then our society can be greatly influenced by the preservation of this park. Continued oil development in the vicinity of the park has the power to ruin that preservation and, as a conservationist, it is my life’s goal to keep this park in its natural state for as long as possible.”

Ruth Molm

Ruth Molm grew up in Belfield and after graduating from Belfield High School attended Dickinson State for 2 years. She graduated from UND with majors in French and English. She received training in Montessori Education and taught several years in south Florida. In 1980 she and her husband bought a farm in Kentucky where they raised two sons. During the summers Ruth always returned to ND so her family could enjoy Theodore Roosevelt National Park and experience the wonder she had growing up. In 2004, Ruth moved back to ND and has been teaching in the Belfield area. She lives on a farm south of town. Ruth enjoys playing organ at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. She also continues to enjoy Theodore Roosevelt National Park—hiking, picnicking and watching wildlife. She is pleased to be a new member on the Board of Directors for Friends of TR National Park.


We would like to give a special THANK YOU to Shannon Horton and Pat Ashley for their service on the Board.


2017 Board Members

President - Larry Heilmann

Vice President - Tama Smith

Secretary - Lisa Omlid

Treasurer - Paul Barnhart

Mike Hanson

Mindi Schmitz

Eric Brevik

Denise Steinbach

Lorrie Pavlicek

Don Frye

Deb Zillich

Ruth Molm

David Schwalbe


The mission of this non-profit organization is to support the natural, cultural, and scenic resources, and the spirit and sense of place of the three units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Little Missouri River that unites them in the badlands of North Dakota.


This will be accomplished by advocating for the park, raising public awareness, engaging youth, and raising funds for projects that support the park's mission and Theodore Roosevelt's conservation legacy.


Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is eager to help Theodore Roosevelt National Park with friend-raising. Our first donation of park support was to be a sponsor of the North Dakota sneak preview (September 17, 2009) of the Ken Burns Film: The National Parks - America's Best Idea. One of the Friends Group board members, Clay Jenkinson, was featured as a scholar in two episodes of the Ken Burns film series.

Back to Top

Archived Newsletters

2015 Fall

2016 Spring

Messages from Friends of TRNP

Like just about everyone, coming off winter I look back and think next year will be different. I will make sure I get all those inside projects done before spring pulls me outside for good. So here is my excuse; according to my journal I spent 11 days skiing the south unit of TRNP and suffered not an ounce of guilt as a result. It was absolutely fantastic. Actually, come to think of it I am going to hold off doing any those inside projects until after that Mayan Calendar thing in 2012. I think that just makes good sense. Wow, I truly did have a great winter in the park.


There was however one project while not complete has made some very good progress this winter and that is our Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We are now officially a 501(c)3 (non-profit) organization, we have a fantastic Board of Directors in place, some great events planned for this summer, an ambitious website under construction, this newsletter, and an enthusiastic

group of members and supporters.


FTRNP, as I see it, will probably never be complete but with our love of the Badlands we can turn this into a 4- season project. Wow, I am going have great summer in the park and I invite all of you to join me. Thank you all for your hard work, generous support and help.


Your friend,

Gerry Reichert,

Glendive, MT

Past-President, Friends of Theodore National Park

My first experience with TRNP occurred during a business trip in November, 1999. I'm the CEO of a public relations/advertising agency in Columbus, Ohio. One of my clients at that time, Log Cabin Syrup, was in the midst of a partnership program with the National Park Foundation to help restore historic log cabins throughout the National Park system. Theodore Roosevelt's Maltese Cross cabin was selected to be showcased as part of this program, and we were sent to Medora to obtain pertinent information to develop our communications materials.


Driving west from Bismarck (this was also my first trip to North Dakota), I was amazed when the rolling plains opened up and exposed an incredible badlands terrain. Being born and raised in Ohio I had never seen such a landscape outside of TV westerns. And while the place was seemingly barren and uncompromising, it had an instant appeal to me. The cabin and its history were incredible of course, and when we entered the park the wildlife appeared as if on some magical cue -- bison, elk, wild horses, turkeys, deer, coyotes, porcupines, hawks, eagles, prairie dogs, etc. There was something different around every corner. I was truly experiencing the West without leaving the Midwest!


I fell in love with the park (and the state) that day, and have returned many times over the years with my wife to hike the trails, camp and visit new friends. The park has become a very special place for me, and truly serves as a refuge for my soul.


Neil Mortine

Columbus, OH

It was summer 1973. My parents and I took our standard 2-week vacation around the American West, that year to Wyoming, Mount Rushmore, the South Dakota Badlands, and finally to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We didn't spend much time – in fact, my mother wanted to leave as soon as she got to the park. But the place captivated me. I'm not sure that I had ever been truly captivated by anyplace before and I wanted to return. Six years later, I was paging through a booklet full of volunteer opportunities in parks and forests. An internship at Theodore Roosevelt National Park caught my eye, and I listed it as the first choice on my application. I was fortunate to spend the summer of of 1979 as a volunteer, and to get hired the next two summers as a seasonal park naturalist.


Somehow, a fellowship to study wildlife in the North Dakota badlands through the University of North Dakota fell into my lap, and I spent two more summers in the park working on research for my master's degree.


It was spring 2003. After a 20 year career working my way up in many wonderful national parks throughout the western U.S., I returned to Theodore Roosevelt National Park as Superintendent. I have always compared all other parks to this one – my first, my standard, my best. I am honored to serve as the park's manager, and am pleased to call myself a Friend of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


Valerie Naylor

Medora, ND

Former Superintendent, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Liaison, Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Issues of Concern: Position Statement on Gas Flaring in western North Dakota


The negative impact of natural gas flaring at well sites near Theodore Roosevelt National Park is real and imminent.  A Bismarck Tribune editorial dated August 1, 2012 described parts of the oil patch at night in the western part of the state as looking "like a war zone".  After dark, park visitors can see almost two dozen oil flares from Buck Hill, the highest viewpoint in the South Unit.  Numerous flares are also visible from the Scenic Drive in the North Unit.  One estimate puts the ultimate number of wells in the state to be in the neighborhood of 50,000 so we are just beginning to see the impact of gas flaring.


Flaring natural gas is a waste of a natural resource, but it also impacts the national park, which is also a valuable natural resource to the state.  Tourism is one of the top industries in the state and the park contributes to that industry.  So far the impact mainly affects the park's view shed; especially the vast and beautiful night sky.  A secondary issue is the impact of air quality on the 500 species of plants and the wildlife living within and near the park.  Air quality is routinely monitored by park staff.


We are realists and recognize that the oil boom is very important to the economy of  North Dakota and it could not be stopped even if one had that outcome as a goal.  It is not our mission, nor do we have the technical skills or business savvy to promote or endorse any particular technology or company. However we are encouraged by the following efforts:


Suggestion from EmPower North Dakota Commission, a public-private energy advocate, to the state Legislature to invest in other uses of natural gas.


The announcement from CHS, one of the Nation’s largest farmer owned cooperatives, to build a plant at Spiritwood, ND to convert natural gas to fertilizer.


A proposal by a New York company, N-Flex LLC, to build a portable fertilizer plant which could be moved among oil wells until or if pipelines are built to reach new wells.


The efforts of Staoil, and international oil company operating in North Dakota, to use captured natural gas from flaring to help power local drilling rigs and generator.


The fact that more and more natural gas is being captured as new technologies are implemented and the infrastructure is built to move the gas to market.


Park staff work with oil companies as much as possible to minimize impacts on the park.  This Friends group is anxious to work with any group, organization, company, or governmental agency to mitigate the environmental impact of gas flaring on the park.


Don Carey

Board Member FTRNP

Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch: The Crown Jewel of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

By Clay S. Jenkinson


What exactly is the Elkhorn Ranch and where is it?


The Elkhorn was the second of two ranches Theodore Roosevelt established in Dakota Territory. His first ranch, established in September 1883, was called the Maltese Cross (or Chimney Butte). Roosevelt did not name it. It was located seven miles south of the Northern Pacific Railroad track on the east bank of the Little Missouri River. The Maltese Cross cabin, built for TR by his ranch hands Bill Merrifield and Sylvane Ferris, now rests on the grounds of the visitor center of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora.


The following year, consumed by grief after the simultaneous death of his wife Alice and his mother Mittie on the same day, Valentine’s Day 1884, Roosevelt returned to Dakota Territory (in June) and sought out a remote place of solitude to serve as a second cattle ranch. He found his ideal location 35 miles north of the little village of Medora, on the west bank of the Little Missouri River. He chose to call the ranch the Elkhorn because when he was exploring the site he found the interlocked antlers of two bull elk. They had fought until their antlers were entangled so completely that they could not extricate themselves, and they died of starvation. This suited TR’s mood precisely. Roosevelt operated both ranches throughout his time in Dakota Territory—between September 1883 and the spring of 1887. The historical records indicate that the Elkhorn was his principal or home ranch. It was there that he had his hired men Wilmot Dow and Bill Sewall construct what was for the time a rather luxurious frontier cabin, 60 feet by 30, including a veranda along the entire eastern face of the cabin, a private bedroom for himself, and even a bathtub (made of rubber).

Back to Top

Archived Articles

"Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch" by Clay Jenkinson

Park News

Annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival to Be Held at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Historic Medora


MEDORA, ND – The fifth annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival will be held September 15 - 17 in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the town of Historic Medora.


This year’s guest speakers are astronomer and NASA Ambassador Lynn Powers; Dr. Paul Barnhart of the Department of Natural Sciences at Dickinson State University; and NASA Solar System Ambassador and educator Chris Milford.


Daytime activities include model rocket building and launching; programs inside Dickinson State University’s Discovery Dome; solar viewing; solar system hikes; telescope building; and family activities. Evening presentations at Cottonwood Campground will be followed by star gazing with a field of telescopes at historic Peaceful Valley Ranch in the park.


The full schedule of events is available at www.nps.gov/thro.


• What: Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival


• Where: Sites in Theodore Roosevelt National Park: South Unit Visitor Center, Cottonwood Campground, Peaceful Valley Ranch. Sites in Medora: Chimney Park, Chateau De Mores Interpretive Center


• When: September 15 - 17

Why I’m Speaking Out to Protect the Park I Love

by Valerie Naylor


Meridian Energy Group is just a few permits away from building a proposed oil refinery 3 miles from the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt’s namesake park, but economic growth in North Dakota does not have to come at the expense of one of America’s most special places.


In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Of all the questions which can come before this nation … there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.” Today, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, this comment still rings true – but now, it is shrouded in irony.

The last 10 years have challenged the sanctity of President Roosevelt’s namesake park in western North Dakota, a place that stands as a testament to our country’s conservation legacy and the very president who helped shape it. The park has faced obstacles in the form of drilling rigs, pump jacks, noise and traffic related to energy development projects outside its boundaries. And there are proposals for a river bridge near the park, a four-lane highway through the North Unit and other permanent infrastructure nearby. And if the biggest oil boom in the United States in the last 50 years was not enough for the park to endure, Meridian Energy Group is now proposing a 55,000-barrel-per-day oil refinery just 3 miles from the boundary of the park’s South Unit.


I can speak to how these obstacles have affected the park because my history with this inspiring place is long and special. I first saw Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1973, from the backseat of my parents’ 1965 Buick Skylark. We started out on the loop road in the park’s South Unit, and I was amazed at the landforms. As we got farther into the park, I was even more enthralled, but my mother had the opposite reaction. She found it desolate and isolated. She asked to leave, and my father turned the car around. I thought, “I love this place and I will return some day.” Little did I know what the future would bring.


Six years later, while paging through a booklet of volunteer opportunities with the Student Conservation Association, a job at Theodore Roosevelt National Park caught my eye. I applied and was soon offered the position, spending five summers in the park, first as a volunteer and later as a park ranger and graduate researcher during the oil boom of the 1970s and 80s. During that time, one of the park’s biggest concerns was the color of the pump jacks and tanks that could be seen from the park. Those impacts, while substantial, now seem relatively minor.


My early experiences in Theodore Roosevelt launched a 31-year career with the National Park Service. After a series of dream jobs in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Big Bend National Park, Badlands National Park and others, I returned to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2003 as superintendent. It was a full-circle homecoming, returning to the park that launched my career. The park was still the amazing, beautiful, expansive wildlife haven I had remembered. But trouble was on the horizon, in the form of the region’s third oil boom.


The last four years of my time as park superintendent were largely occupied working both with and against oil companies, trying to achieve win-win situations that would allow for development while protecting the viewsheds and soundscapes and integrity of the national park. There were victories, failures and compromises. When I retired in 2014, the oil boom was beginning to release its grip on the North Dakota badlands. But this proposed refinery now looms at the park’s doorstep.


Meridian Energy recently submitted its request to the North Dakota Department of Health for an air quality permit. It has already received zoning approval from the Billings County Commissioners, and a water-use permit is pending. If the state of North Dakota issues the air quality permit and some wastewater permits, construction on the refinery could begin immediately. Meridian claims it will be a “clean” refinery — perhaps the cleanest ever built. But even if the proposed refinery somehow meets the stringent air quality standards required for a national park under the Clean Air Act, it should not be built so close to the park. Emissions from this facility would pollute the park’s air and threaten its dark night skies and scenic views. It would also be the first thing the majority of visitors would see as they approached the park.


In a famous call to action, Theodore Roosevelt encouraged individuals: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I don’t believe the American public wants an oil refinery within 3 miles of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, or any national park, for that matter — but fortunately, we can still do something about it.


Regardless of where you live, you can speak up for the park and tell Meridian Energy Group Chairman and CEO William C. Prentice to consider alternate locations in North Dakota. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who proudly proclaims his admiration for Theodore Roosevelt, can join this chorus of opposition. Together, we can and must ensure that this area that inspired Theodore Roosevelt and still inspires so many people today is protected for future generations.

Moon Rocks to Be Featured at the Fourth Annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival


September 16, 2016


MEDORA, ND: Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Historic Medora invite curious minds of all ages to celebrate North Dakota’s dark night skies. Park rangers, astronomers, and space enthusiasts of all types will gather for the Fourth Annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival Friday, September 23 through Sunday, September 25.


“People have been studying the night skies for millennia,” said Chief of Interpretation Eileen Andes. “Dakota Nights celebrates the beauty and fragility of this awe-inspiring resource and makes it accessible and fun for people of all ages. You don’t have to be an astronomy expert; the festival has something for everyone.”


Daytime activities include model rocket building and launching, a “build your own telescope” workshop, “sun gazing,” solar system hikes, family astronomy activities, and hourly presentations in Dickinson State University’s Discovery Dome. As a special offering this year, the park is proud to host NASA lunar samples! Visitors are welcome to enjoy presentations by nationally recognized speakers at 7:00 p.m. MDT each evening at the Cottonwood Campground amphitheater. Afterwards, astronomers will reveal the mysteries of the universe while star gazing in a field of more than a dozen telescopes at Peaceful Valley Ranch.


Dr. Tyler Nordgren, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Redlands, artist, photographer, astronomer and night sky ambassador, will make the featured presentation “Come for the Stars, Stay for the Sun” on Friday, September 23.

Dr. Joe Shaw, Director of the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University, will be the featured presenter on Saturday, September 24. Dr. Shaw will present “Optics in Nature”  at 3:30 p.m. MDT in the auditorium of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame (250 Main Street, Medora); at 7:00 p.m. he will discuss the Aurora Borealis, a presentation that will include beautiful photographs of this night sky phenomenon.


Dr. Paul Barnhart of the Department of Natural Sciences at Dickinson State University will make the featured presentation; “The Importance of Darkness: Bat Ecology and The Impact of Light Pollution on Wildlife” on Sunday.


The Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival is a partnership between Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Historic Medora. “Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival would not be possible without our partners and the many volunteers who join us in celebrating the night sky,” said Andes. Partners include Medora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Medora Chamber of Commerce, Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association, Dickinson State University, Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Chateau De Mores State Historic Site, North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, Custer’s Cottages, and the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge in Dickinson.


All festival events are free. Park entrance fees apply on Friday and Sunday.  National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 24, and entrance fees will not be charged.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park to Celebrate National Park Service Centennial


National Park Service Centennial Events


MEDORA, ND: Theodore Roosevelt National Park will join the National Park Service in celebrating its 100 th anniversary, offering a variety of activities and events Thursday, August 25 through Sunday, August 28. Entrance to the park will be free for the entire Centennial weekend.


The celebration will begin with the release of the America the Beautiful Quarter honoring Theodore Roosevelt National Park on Thursday, August 25 at 10:00 a.m. MDT at Painted Canyon Visitor Center. Hosted by the National Park Service and the United States Mint, the event will include a coin exchange where the public can trade cash for $10 rolls of newly minted Theodore Roosevelt National Park quarters. Children under 18 will each receive a new quarter, courtesy of the U. S. Mint. School children will have the opportunity to join rangers in creating NPS Centennial murals which will be displayed in park visitor centers. Painted Canyon is off highway I-94 at exit 32.


Historian and Theodore Roosevelt scholar Clay Jenkinson will be a featured speaker at the quarter release and will conclude his summer lecture series with two presentations. The first, “The History, Development, and Future of the National Park Service,” will be at the Cottonwood Campground amphitheater at 8:00 p.m. MDT on Thursday, August 25. On Friday, August 26, Jenkinson will present “Roosevelt and the National Refuge System” at 10:00 a.m. in the South Unit Visitor Center.


Friday’s activities include a Theodore Roosevelt National Park Quarter Celebration at the First International Bank and Trust in Watford City at 10:00 a.m. CDT and “A Visit With Theodore Roosevelt” with Roosevelt reenactor Arch Ellwein at the park’s North Unit Juniper Campground amphitheater at 8:00 p.m.


The public is invited to join a ranger for a Wilderness Hike to explore the badlands and more remote areas of the park’s North Unit on Saturday, August 27 at 8:30 a.m. CDT. The 7-mile hike will be through rugged terrain; bring plenty of water (1 gallon/person/day), wear sturdy hiking shoes, and bring sunscreen.


The weekend’s events conclude with an excursion to the park’s Elkhorn Ranch Unit, site of Theodore Roosevelt’s “home ranch.” Meet at the South Unit Visitor Center for a short introduction at Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin at 9:00 a.m. MDT. Bring water and a sack lunch and wear sturdy shoes. Be prepared for a car caravan to the Elkhorn Ranch; a high clearance vehicle is recommended.


Please note the park’s North Unit is in the Central Time Zone and the South Unit is on the Mountain Time Zone.


For a complete listing of Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s Centennial celebration activities, please visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/thro.


Theodore Roosevelt National Park is on social media! Follow us on Twitter @TRooseveltNPS and “like” us on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheodoreRooseveltNationalPark.




About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 412 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to- home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.

BioBlitz Coming to Theodore Roosevelt National Park


Release Date: June 17, 2016


Contact: Eileen Andes, eileen_andes@nps.gov, 701-623-4466


MEDORA, ND: Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Dickinson State University invite you to participate in citizen science during the National Parks BioBlitz on Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25 at Peaceful Valley Ranch in the park's South Unit.


BioBlitz is a fun, fast-paced biological survey of a park's creepers and crawlers, plants, pollinators, and mammals. During this two-day event, teams of scientists, naturalists, students, and volunteers will discover and document the living creatures in the park. The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary with more than 100 BioBlitzes across the country.


Scientists from Dickinson State University and Theodore Roosevelt National Park will lead teams of volunteers to conduct inventories. Small mammal inventories will begin on June 24 at 6:00 PM until 12:00 AM on June 25. Grass and flowering plant inventory begins on June 25 at 10:00 AM. All times are Mountain Daylight Time.


Registration is required to participate; all participants will serve as park volunteers during the BioBlitz. To register and secure your spot on an inventory team, call AmyMcCann at (701) 623-4730 ext. 1404. Additional volunteer registration will be held on June 24 at 5:30 PM and 9:30 AM on June 25 at Peaceful Valley Ranch.


To learn more about the National Parks BioBlitz activities, visit go.nps.gov/2016bioblitz

Postal Service to Dedicate Theodore Roosevelt National Park Forever Stamp at Medora


What: The dedication of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Forever Stamp. This event is free and open to the public.



  • Wendy Ross, Superintendent, Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Greg Graves, (a) Western Area Vice-president, U.S. Postal Service
  • Doug Stephens, Dakotas District Manager, U.S. Postal Service


When: Thursday, June 2, 2016, 11 a.m.



Medora Community Center

465 Pacific Ave.

Medora, ND 58645


A stunning image of the Little Missouri River winding through Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands of North Dakota is one of 16 National Parks Forever Stamps will dedicate June 2 at sites throughout the country. The stamps celebrate the National Park Service on its 100th anniversary.


The photograph was taken in July, 2013 by Q. T. Luong of San Jose, CA, who captured the image as part of a 20-year project to photograph 59 national parks. Luong was particularly interested in the park’s rugged character and vegetation; and how the Little Missouri links the park’s three units; the South Unit, the North Unit and the Elkhorn Ranch site.


For more information about this stamp go to: http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2016/pr16_031.htm


For more information about the National Parks Stamp Pane, go to: http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2016/pr16_034.htm

Tourism to North Dakota National Parks Creates $39.96 Million in Economic Benefits

Report shows visitor spending supports 516 jobs in local economy


April 21st, 2016 — Medora, ND


A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 605,515 visitors to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2015 spent $39.959 million in communities near these parks. That spending supported 516 jobs in the surrounding areas.


“Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said North Dakota Group Superintendent Wendy Ross. “We are delighted to share the stories of these places and the experiences they provide. National Park tourism is a significant driver in the U.S. economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service – and it’s also a big factor in our local economy. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”


The peer reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally, with 252,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $32 billion.


According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent), followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).


To download the report visit go.nps.gov/vse


The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Named #5 on the New York Times' "52 Places to Go in 2016"

January 7th, 2016 — Medora, ND


Read the article at the New York Times website.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Releases Environmental Assessment for Cell Tower Replacement

January 25th, 2016 — Medora, ND


Contact: Bill Whitworth, Bill_whitworth@nps.gov, 701-623-4466


Theodore Roosevelt National Park invites the public to provide feedback on an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the replacement of its North Unit communications tower. The current tower provides communication functions essential to public safety and efficient operations for the park and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). It is located within the park boundary on the east side of Hwy 85 in McKenzie County, just north of the park entrance.


The NPS will issue a permit to Verizon Wireless to replace the existing 220 foot tall guyed radio tower with aviation safety lighting with a 190 foot guyed tower without a flashing red light. Verizon Wireless will co-locate its telecommunications equipment on the tower and construct a slightly larger support shed to accommodate National Park Service (NPS), USFS, and Verizon equipment. Gravel will be added to the existing access road.


“Allowing Verizon to co-locate its equipment will eliminate the need to construct a second, highly visible telecommunications tower in the area”, said Chief of Resource Management Bill Whitworth. “Because of the tower’s reduced height, a blinking light on top will no longer be required, improving the quality of the viewshed to those visiting park wilderness and other backcountry sites. Given the rate of development in the Bakken, this is a rare opportunity to share resources and reduce cell tower proliferation in the region.”


The public is invited to provide comment on the EA through the NPS Planning Environment and Public Comment System (PEPC) at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkID=167.


The website provides links to the document and its attachments and instructions on how to comment in the public comment database. The comment period is from January 22 to February 22, 2016. If you are unable to view the document or provide comments before February 22 and still desire to do so, please contact the park to request an extension. Comments may be submitted directly on the website database or by letter addressed to


Theodore Roosevelt National Park


P.O. Box 7

Medora, ND 58645.

Back to Top

Archived Park News

2016:  TRNP to Waive Fees on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day



(701) 623-4466

Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

All Rights Reserved 2016

Photos courtesy of David Nix

Website by Makoché Media