Four great days...

Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2014

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Where I stayed
Cottonwood Campground, inside the National Park - dry camping $10 a nite

Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In September of 1883 Theodore Roosevelt came to this part of North Dakota to hunt buffalo.  He became so enamored of the area that before he headed back to New York he and two other men joined together and started a cattle business.  The name of this venture was the Maltese Cross Ranch. 

In 1884 Roosevelt returned to the area and established a second open-range ranch, called the Elkhorn.  This became his principal residence and a place where he could lead the 'strenous' life that he loved. 

By spending time in the Dakota Territory, he became alarmed at the damage that was being done to the land and its wildlife.  He witnessed the destruction of some big game species.  Overgrazing destroyed the grasslands and with them the habitats for small mammals and songbirds.  Conservation increasingly became one of Roosevelt's major concerns.  When he became President in 1901, Roosevelt pursued this interest in natural history by establishing the U.S. Forest Service and by signing the 1906 Antiquities Act under which he proclaimed 18 national monuments.  He also got Congressional approval for the establishment of five national parks and 51 wildlife refuges and set aside land as national forests.  

Roosevelt often reflected that he 'would have never been President if it had not been for his experiences in North Dakota'.  We spent four days here in the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and can understand how this part of the country had such an effect on our future President.  It is hard to put into words how this wide open, stunningly beautiful place pulled us in.  I'm sure the experience would have been entirely different if we had visited during the 'season'.  Since we visited after Labor Day, the park was virtually empty and all of the touristy type attractions were closed. 

Enjoy the pictures but, as always they don't do the scenery justice.
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