Theodore Roosevelt visited the Dakota Territory for months at a time between 1883 and 1886. Unlike the badlands of South Dakota, this area was good for ranching, It had open range with lots of grass on the plateaus and valleys to attract ranchers with large herds. It seemed endless, but Roosevelt witnessed the results of overgrazing and bad management.
Hard work as a cattle rancher transformed him physically. Always interested in nature, his time there also transformed him into a conservationist. During his time as President, he created the U.S. Forest Service, signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, proclaimed 18 national monuments and worked to create five national parks, 150 national forests and dozens of nature reserves.
We have limited memories from our brief 2012 visit. We did not see much wildlife. While we did not spend much more time there in 2018, we were more fortunate in what we saw. There had been more rain, the fall was more colorful, and we saw more animals.
The “badlands” here were carved by the Little Missouri River which originally flowed north to Hudson Bay in Canada. When the river was blocked by ice age glaciers, it turned east towards the Missouri River and began to carve the scenery we see today.
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Date of our visit: 12-13 September 2018