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9 Theodore Roosevelt National Park Free Camping and Boondocking Spots

Last updated on May 7th, 2022 at 11:45 pm

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We recently visited the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota. WE decided to go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park because it has been on our bucket list for years. The park was named after the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who had a very active role in shaping America’s development as a nation. It is also one of the best-preserved examples of our country’s great grassland heritage and culture.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park lies within the mixed-grass prairie, covering about 160 million acres in the US alone, or 20% of the total land area. Still, this land is disappearing at an alarming rate due to human activity such as farming and development. I found that some areas are still relatively untouched by humans, and I got to see firsthand the beauty of the prairie landscape.

It was cold when we visited, even though it was supposed to be summer, but luckily there were fire pits ready for use in some campsites. During our stay at the park, we did some camping, hiking, and backpacking with some friends, but mostly just relaxed and enjoyed nature.

Visitors can find pretty much anything to do in this park; whether it’s taking a walk through history by visiting one of three national historic trails (the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, or the Pony Express National Historic Trails), viewing wildlife like bison, elk or pronghorn antelope on one of five scenic drives or bringing your family for some quality time while you hike or camp.

I have had a great time visiting the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and I hope you will visit it too. It is worth your time. These activities are free to participate in, but there are some fees associated with camping sites and rental equipment like backpacks, hiking shoes, etc.

Other Posts About Boondocking and Hiking In the Dakotas

5 Badlands National Park Boondocking Stops
23 Great Wind Cave National Park Boondocking Locations
9 Theodore Roosevelt National Park Free Camping and Boondocking Spots
Our Top 10 Family Road Trips In the U.S.

 

To know more about how the park came into existence, here is a brief history that I found interesting. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park was founded in 1978, and it is located in North Dakota, United States. It covers an area of about 270 Square Miles. Many interesting species are living there, including bison, coyotes, deer, elk, and birds.

The park has a visitor center with displays on the life of Theodore Roosevelt, who spent time here as a child once his father became postmaster of the nearby town of Medora around 1885.

Visitors can also see how buffalo are taken care of at the park’s buffalo barns. The rangers offer guided tours for everyone who wishes to watch the animals close up or even pet them which is great for children.

Many abandoned homes remain from early settlers that now provide shelter to animals with a special permit.

By the way, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is famous for its wild horses and their unique beauty and behavior. Like all other animals living at the park, they are free, roaming around on its hillsides or even swimming across the rivers.

Around 2 million people visit this park every year. All of them enjoy bringing back memories of what they saw there with family and friends.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is also a popular destination among tourists who like to explore the land where some great battles were fought during the American Indian war. An important establishment on-site called Little Bighorn Battlefield shows how the famous Battle of Little Bighorn took place between soldiers from the United States and Native Americans.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

9 Easy Boondocking Spots For Your Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Trip

1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Boondocking Locations – Scoria Pit

Address
Medora, North Dakota
GPS: 46.9454, -103.5886
Elevation: 2598′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 6 miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet.

2. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Free Camping Spots – Camels Hump Lake

Address
15974-15986 32nd Street Southwest
Sentinel Butte, North Dakota
GPS: 46.945899, -103.816797
Elevation: 2710′

Management – Public – Fish and Wildlife Service

This is a small lake with camping available Thursday-Monday. The best location for a 30+ ft RV is at the first entrance to the park down by the lake to the left. It is level here and you can turn around a large RV towing a car. (See GPS photo attached)

3. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Boondocking Spots – Odland Dam

Address
Beach, North Dakota
GPS: 47.03484, -104.01043
Elevation: 2661′

Management – Public – State Park

Small lake, deepest depth is 17ft. Is stocked with fish

4. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Boondocking Locations – Leland Dam

Address
Unnamed Road
Sidney, North Dakota
GPS: 47.559123, -103.798668
Elevation: 2198′

Management – Public – State Park

Leland Dam is open all year. This is a free dispersed campsite. No reservations. First come, first served.

5. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Free Camping Spots – Summit Campground

Address
Watford City, ND
Grassy Butte, North Dakota
GPS: 47.540359, -103.241776
Elevation: 2513′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt and .2 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Ten minute drive from North Unit of TRNP. Pit toilets, 3 campsites, no water or electricity. The sign said it was $6 a night, but there were no envelopes and nowhere to pay. Stayed 2 nights, never had a problem.

6. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Boondocking Spots – Wibaux City Park

Address
109 1st Avenue, Wibaux, MT 59353
Wibaux, Montana
GPS: 46.988385, -104.187872
Elevation: 2644′

Management
Public – City Park (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 10 feet miles from a paved road. Wibaux City Park is open All Year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 1 to 2 nights at Wibaux City Park.

7. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Boondocking Locations – Killdeer Mountains WMA

Address
Unnamed Road
Killdeer, North Dakota
GPS: 47.45581, -103.00966
Elevation: 2664′

Management – Public – Fish and Wildlife

This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> first camped. No reservations are accepted.

8. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Free Camping Spots – Seven Sisters Fishing Access

Address
Country Road 115
Crane, Montana
GPS: 47.573908, -104.222864
Elevation: 1909′

Management – Public – Fish and Wildlife Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 2 miles from a paved road. Seven Sisters Fishing Access is open All Year. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. You may stay 7 nights at Seven Sisters Fishing Access.

9. Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Boondocking Spots –  Patterson Lake

Address
8 Th Street Southwest
Dickinson, North Dakota
GPS: 46.862759, -102.845317
Elevation: 2438′

Management – Public – State Park

Patterson Lake is open all year. This is a free dispersed campsite. First come -> First Camped. Reservations not accepted.

Places and Things to Do and See in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

There are many places and things to do and see in Theodore Roosevelt National Park that I would advise you not to miss while visiting this exceptional national treasure.

1. Visitor Center

The Visitor Center at Theodore Roosevelt National Park has many exhibits regarding the ecological world of the park, including its fossils, plants, and animals [etc.]. There are also educational programs [for children] [involving ecology]. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily from May through October and then opens again on April 1st until Memorial Day weekend.

2. The Sullys Hill National Game Preserve

Sully’s Hill National Game Preserve is located just south of Medora, North Dakota. There are almost 500 bison that roam within the preserve, and it is open to visitors year-round. During hunting seasons, rangers will be on hand to give talks. Bicycling is allowed in some parts of the park, so you can bike along trails or head down by the river bed.

3. Back Country Horse Trails

There are over 50 miles of back-country horse trails within Theodore Roosevelt National Park, so this is something every horse lover will enjoy riding on.

4. Fossil Hunting Areas

If you are a fossil enthusiast, Theodore Roosevelt National Park has several areas where fossil hunting is permitted. Bring your rock hammer and have some fun.

5. Canoeing & Kayaking on the Little Missouri River

Canoeing is one of the most popular activities to do in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, so bring your canoes or kayaks, or rent them there if you don’t want to take your own.

6. Scenic Overlooks

There are several scenic overlooks in Theodore Roosevelt National Park that provide outstanding views of the Little Missouri River Valley, including Achenbach Hill Overlook, Lookout Point Overlook, Palmquist Farm Overlook, and Sully Creek Viewpoint.

Top 10 Trails to Hike at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #1. Caprock Coulee Loop

1 Caprock Coulee Loop Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Denali National Park Hiking Trail

This very strenuous hike is 6 miles long, so it may take most hikers 6 to 7 hours to complete the round trip. The trail starts by heading up the hillside for 0.5 miles before reaching a fork where you should go left. Once you have reached the top of the canyon, enjoy stunning views. Once descending into another part of Shoshone Canyon, watch out for bison that are often sighted here. This loop will be completed once you have reached “The Notch,” which is not much further down from where you started.

Length: 4.4 mi
Elevation gain: 583 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #2. Wind Canyon Trail

2 Wind Canyon Trail Theodore Roosevelt National Park National Park Denali National Park Hiking Trail

Don’t let such a short distance (0.9 miles one way) fool you – this is a very strenuous hike. The trail starts by heading up into the hills and will require some scrambling at points to continue on your hike. Along this route, hikers can enjoy stunning views of “The Palisades” as well as wildlife such as bison and prairie dogs.

Length: 0.5 mi
Elevation gain: 55 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, River, Views, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #3. Petrified Forest Trail

Petrified Forest Trail

This easy, flat paved trail is 1 mile long and starts at the visitor center before heading down to see the fossils of the petrified trees that made North Dakota what it is today. While not many fossils can be seen today, visitors can still learn about their history (and how they got there) while walking through history itself. It takes approximately 45 minutes to complete the loop.

Length: 10.2 mi
Elevation gain: 833 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Views, Rocky, No shade, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #4. Painted Canyon Nature Trail

Painted Canyon Nature Trail

This easy, flat paved trail is 0.5 miles long and will take roughly 30 minutes to complete the loop. Visitors can enjoy wildlife such as bison, prairie dogs, foxes, rabbits, birds, and lizards while walking through this canyon created by erosion over time.

Length: 1.0 mi
Elevation gain: 262 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Views, Wildlife, No shade, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #5. Boicourt Overlook Trail

Boicourt Overlook Trail

This very strenuous hike is 2 miles in length (round trip), so it may take most hikers 4 to 5 hours to complete the round trip. The trail starts by heading up a steep hillside for nearly 1 mile before reaching a fork where you should veer left to reach “The Boicourt Overlook.” From here, you can enjoy stunning views! Be sure to look into the coulees of “The Little Missouri River.” If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to head down into these coulees and see what treasures they may hold.

Length: 0.8 mi
Elevation gain: 62 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Walking, Views, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #6. Buck Hill Trail

Buck Hill Trail

This very strenuous hike is 1.5 miles in length (round trip), so it will likely take most hikers 3 to 4 hours to complete the round trip. The trail starts by heading up a portion of land known as “Buck Hill.” Once reaching the top, visitors can enjoy beautiful views of both sunrise and sunset and wildlife such as bison and prairie dogs. On the way back down, be on the lookout for fossils.

Length: 0.4 mi
Elevation gain: 55 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Partially paved, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #7. Coal Vein Trail

Coal Vein Trail

This easy to moderate hike is 1 mile in length (round trip) and will take roughly 90 minutes for most people to complete the loop. Visitors can enjoy bison, prairie dogs, foxes, rabbits, birds, and lizards while walking through this ravine created by erosion over time. This trail can be fairly busy during peak visit times.

Length: 0.6 mi
Elevation gain: 16 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #8. Jones Creek Trail

Jones Creek Trail

This easy to moderate hike is 4 miles in length (round trip), so it likely will take hikers 2 to 3 hours round trip. The trail starts by heading up a steep hillside before veering off into “Homestead Coulee,” which leads you down toward “Jones Creek.” Once arriving at the creek bed, visitors should turn around and head back to the trailhead. Be on the lookout for bison, prairie dogs, foxes, rabbits, birds, and lizards.

Length: 6.9 mi
Elevation gain: 429 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, River, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Trail #9. Buck Horn Trail

Buckhorn Trail

This easy to moderate hike is 2 miles in length (round trip), so it likely will take hikers 90 minutes to complete the loop. The trail starts by heading up a steep hillside before veering off into “Homestead Coulee,” which leads you down toward “Buck Hill.” Once arriving at the bottom, visitors should turn right onto an old roadbed to lead them back to where they started. While this trail does not see many visitors due to its remoteness, be on the lookout for wildlife such as bison, prairie dogs, foxes, rabbits, birds, and lizards.

Length: 10.8 mi
Elevation gain: 1,033 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Nature trips, Bird watching, Running, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Hiking Trail #10. Ridgeline Nature Trail

Ridgeline Nature Trail

This easy to moderate hike is 3.5 miles in length (round trip), so it likely will take hikers 2 to 4 hours round trip. This trail offers hardly any elevation gain/loss while sticking fairly close to the North Unit’s ridgelines! The trail starts by heading up a hillside before veering off into several ravines that lead you further out into the coulees of the Little Missouri River, where you can enjoy stunning views at “The Boicourt Overlook.” Hikers can enjoy many life forms along this route, such as bison, prairie dogs, foxes, rabbits, birds, and lizards.

Length: 0.7 mi
Elevation gain: 111 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Views, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Our Final Thoughts

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an excellent place to explore the many wonders of North Dakota. It can and should be visited along with other great sites like the Buffalo Gap Grasslands, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands National Park to name a few. The park offers camping, hiking trails, and even a visitor center that provides information on local wildlife. If you’re looking for something new to do in your state or want to experience all that nature has to offer, then be sure to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


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