At 11 am, we took US highway 85 north out of Deadwood, SD and by about 4:30 that afternoon, we found ourselves driving through the North Dakota Badlands and the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Apparently, after the tragic loss of both his wife and his mother on Valentine’s Day, 1884, a young Theodore Roosevelt came from New York to his ranch in this area for a getaway and to hunt bison. According to web sources, it was this trip that set the (much later to be) 26th president’s determination to preserve natural resources and lay down conservation policies that are in place to this day.

Every mile or so, you see signs such as the one below. The sign itself is a huge understatement because the entire drive on this 14-mile scenic byway is breathtaking. Outside of every car window, one is dumbstruck with one magnificent scene after another.

Because it’s so close to home for us, we’ve briefly visited the North Unit on a few occasions. To fully experience everything there is to see and do in the three different units of this 70,446+ acre national park, one should set aside two or three days. I have a North Dakota bucket list (surprise, surprise), and this is definitely at the top of that list.

Photo Note: On the way by in a vehicle, it’s difficult to capture patterned things in close proximity, as a significant blur often occurs. Knowing in advance what we were about to see, I prepared for and shot a video of our drive though this area, and then later isolated still frames from the video in an app called video2photo. I had to do a fair bit of post processing to compensate for colour, white balance, clarity, and brightness, and to edit out bug smears on the windows, but was satisfied with the end result. Maybe next time, we’ll pull out to one or two one of those scenic areas to get some still photos.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

Theodore Roosevelt