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If you go to the Badlands

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in western North Dakota 24 miles east of the Montana state line and 130 miles west of Bismarck, is divided into three principal sections. The South Unit is accessed via the town of Medora off I-94, and panoramas are also visible from the Painted Canyon visitor center (open only in the summer) on the interstate seven miles east of Medora. The North Unit is between the communities of Grassy Butte and Watford City off U.S. 85. The small, remote Elkhorn Ranch site between the two is accessible via an unpaved road.

Most of the 70,448-acre park is open year-round, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Between 400,000 and 500,000 visitors are recorded each year. The entrance fee, good for seven days at all units, is $10 per vehicle or $5 per person. Golden Age, Golden Access, Golden Eagle and National Park passes are honored.

At Medora is a visitor center/museum that tells of Roosevelt's years in the area, with ranching artifacts and natural history displays. The restored Maltese Cross cabin is behind the center. The South Unit is threaded by a paved 36-mile scenic road that loops through the colorful landscape. Bison, prairie dogs (in their villages) and other wildlife are regularly seen. Several trails, short and long, are accessible from the road.

The Elkhorn Ranch site is undeveloped, and no buildings remain, though interpretive signs have been set up.

The North Unit also has a visitor center and a 14-mile scenic drive that rises from the Little Missouri River bottoms to grassland prairies and panoramic overlooks. The Juniper Campground sits in a grassy cottonwood grove near the river. Several trails lead into the hills and the river valley. Longhorn steers similar to those raised by 19th-century ranchers, as well herds of bison, rove the area.

For more information, call the park at 701-623-4466; write to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, P.O. Box 17, Medora, ND 58645-0007; or visit the Web at www.nps.gov/thro. There are several other Roosevelt-related Web sites, including those for Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and three national historic sites pertaining to him. Worthy of note is www.theodoreroosevelt.org maintained by the Theodore Roosevelt Association.

Also of interest near Medora is Chateau DeMores State Historic Site, the home of a Roosevelt contemporary — and sometime adversary — a wealthy French nobleman, the Marquis DeMores. He built a slaughterhouse in Medora in the 1880s to process and then market beef. Tours are offered from late May through September.