Teddy bears and badlands

The father of the teddy bear was our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest man to become president at age 42.  TR was sworn in when William McKinley was assassinated in 1901.  Known for his cowboy persona, TR was a Colonel in the Rough Riders,  he was a mountain man, loved to live off the land.  His home was New York, but he loved the Dakotas.

He went to North Dakota and partnered with a man to build a ranch in the badlands, a year later, he bought his own ranch 60 miles away.  After a severe winter wiped out most of the cattle in North Dakota, he returned home to New York, and re-started his political career, but kept his ranches in tact.

Those ranches still exist today, as part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the western edge of North Dakota.  Two sections of land split by I-94 are held for the public to enjoy, including a third consisting of Roosevelt’s home ranch, Elkhorn, lying on both sides of the Little Missouri. 

In the South unit, there is a 35 mile loop road that runs through river bottoms and badlands; the North unit has a 14 mile road through flats, buttes and canyons.  But the point of the National Park isn’t to “see” stuff, like you do in most, it is to honor the Nation’s first and foremost conservationist.  To find solitude and truly “get away from it all”.  There are no crowds, no traffic jams, just plenty of room to roam.

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