National parks are some of the most special places in America. The National Parks Program was begun by Teddy Roosevelt a century ago, and Yellowstone National Park was considered the first and most impressive of the parks. That program was designed to protect the most important places in America from damage, marking them as places that need to be preserved and visited as much as possible. National parks, then, are places of history and nature, allowing Americans to invest in the rarest and best places in the country. With this in mind, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an excellent example of why these parks are so important to America. It is a park in the badlands area of Western North Dakota. There, it celebrates the free spirit of the Upper Plains, providing people with a means through which they can easily enjoy the best that the country has to offer. National parks in general are some of the best places to visit for families. This particular park is certainly on that list, and it remains one that all families should consider when they are planning a family vacation. It is an excellent park for families because it is less crowded than some of the parks also in its area, because it offers ample opportunity for hiking, camping, and photography, and because it has many great and rare animals that visitors can learn about over time (Wang).
One of the things that families should think about when trying to decide which park to visit is the extent to which the park will be overrun by other people. When one visits Yellowstone National Park or even Badlands National Park just below in South Dakota, one can expect to wait for an hour in a line just to enter the park. The crowdedness does not stop when a person gets through the gates. Everyone one might want to go in Yellowstone will feature many people, potentially disrupting the sense of nature that a person would have there. At Theodore Roosevelt National Park, this is not so much the case. It is one of the least visited national parks in America, even though it features many of the same things that other parks have that draw people in. If one would like to explore the Upper Plains, then this is a place they can do so without the difficulty associated with other spots. This will allow the family to see more, to spend less time waiting around in traffic, and to potentially access what national parks are all about. When people go to parks, they are usually looking to get away from people and enjoy the sanctity of nature. This may not be popular when one goes to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, but it is possible if one is willing to go a bit farther north into North Dakota.

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One of the best things about national parks from a family perspective is that kids and adults alike can get out on the hiking trails, do some camping, and even take amazing pictures. All of that is possible in large quantities in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park features many trails right through the badlands. These are naturally occurring sculptures that are unlike what people can see elsewhere around the country. Imagine the American version of Stone Hinge, but on a much grander scale. One of the reasons why the hiking in this part is good for families is that it does not have as much elevation gain. While there are still amazing views, one does not have to be in danger like they might if they went to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. This is an accessible park wherein people can enjoy hiking without having to be extreme hikers. There are also many campsites that are maintained by the National Park Service. Rangers are always there to assist people. It is camping in a way that is safer and easier for those who do not want to go into the backcountry. For those who have kids and might not be able to go into danger, these campsites are an excellent option. While there, one can surely find views that allow them to take great pictures.

National parks are, in many cases, all about the animals. People go to Denali National Park in hopes of seeing bears. People in Yellowstone can often see wolves. In Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the draw comes from the feral horses (McCann). A number of horses live in the park, and they run wild. For those who have a view of the Wild West that includes these creatures, this part of North Dakota is the perfect place. It can create legendary experiences, as children can watch unbridled stallions run through open fields. There are also bison in the park, which is not unique to North Dakota, but it can be an excellent experience for those who normally do not see these creatures.

Ultimately this national park offers a lot of to do for families and can be a great experience. Some believe this is one of the best parks to visit because it is not as crowded as the parks in similar areas. It still provides much of the same value, however. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is perfect for families because it provides less in the way of crowds, because it offers its fair share of outdoor adventure, and because of the unique animals that can be found there.

  • McCann, Blake. “Utility of low-stress livestock handling techniques for management of feral horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.” Stockmanship Journal 4.2 (2015): 54-62.
  • Sargeant, Glen A., Michael W. Oehler, and Chad L. Sexton. “Use of water developments by female elk at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.” California Fish and Game 100.3 (2014): 538-549.
  • Wang, Hui, et al. “Interpretation and education in the US National Park: a case study of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.” Tourism Tribune 31.5 (2016): 119-126.