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“Breathtaking, Peaceful, Relaxing”
Review of South Unit

South Unit
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Popular area of the park for hiking and horseback riding.
Level Contributor
120 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Breathtaking, Peaceful, Relaxing”
Reviewed September 24, 2012

Whether you're travelling past on the interstate or if you're stopping in Medora for a day or two, make sure you take the time to drive through the park at least once. Depending on your interests you can simply drive through and see the gorgeous scenery (about an hour of travel time) or you can stop and hike some of the trails. If you want to immerse yourself in the beauty you can camp in the campground or even do some backwoods camping. You're guaranteed to see prairie dogs, and the odds are good that you'll spot a herd of buffalo or a band of horses grazing in a meadow. Bring a camera because the sites are awe-inspiring.

Visited August 2012
1 Thank Deborah P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
170 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Very pretty and unique landscape -- not crowded at all”
Reviewed August 22, 2012

I took the south unit drive in August and really loved it. I drove about 20mph most of the time and the 36 miles took me about an hour and a half altogether. It never got boring. The landscape is so incredibly unique. It's like the Grand Canyon without the canyon part. I'd never seen anything like it. There was wild buffalo and lots of scenic vistas to pull over and enjoy. The loop drive was built for pulling over and taking pictures - there are several areas that make that convenient. There were other cars and people around, but few enough that I never felt like I was 'holding up traffic' by slowing down to see the sights. Medora is a sleepy little town which is also hard to describe. It exists for the park -- I saw no other industry as I drove through. Some places to stay, some restaurants, some ice cream shops, a visitor's center, the Cowboy Hall of Fame. It was very pretty and there was a good scenic overlook that looked out over the town of Medora.

Visited August 2012
Thank dschick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Rafael, CA
Level Contributor
75 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Beautiful, Uncrowded”
Reviewed August 20, 2012

We visited this park late in the afternoon on our way from Billings to Dickinson. The staff in the visitor's center graciously offered to run the film for us before they closed, and suggested that if we didn't have time to drive around the whole loop we should at least take the western part of the drive. We were not disappointed. The Badlands here are not as stark or vibrant as the South Dakota Badlands, but there is much more vegetation which provides a home for a wider variety of wild life. In just the short time we spent in the park we saw a huge herd of bison in a green meadow next to the Little Missouri River, deer, and several prairie dog towns. We passed an inviting wooded camp and picnic site along the river. Having been in the height of summer traffic in Yellowstone the day before, we were delighted with this peaceful, quiet place.

The movie was very informative, both as to Theodore Roosevelt's involvement in this area and the geology of the landscape. Many people we have talked to since being there had never heard of Theodore Roosevelt National Park; what a shame. When reviewing our trip (there were eight of us - grandma, 2 daughters, 5 grandchildren) one of my daughters said this was her favorite of all the sites we visited. If you are going to be in western North Dakota, make this a must-see stop!

Visited July 2012
2 Thank margie1928
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bloomington, Indiana
Level Contributor
61 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Well worth the time”
Reviewed August 12, 2012

The gateway community of Medora was cute, though it is not very big and there were not as many choices for a good lunch as we had hoped. The park was wonderful, with cute Prague dogs everywhere, wild horses and bison right next to or on the road. Of course the landscape and the history behind it is the main show, and so different from the rolling plains of the rest of North Dakota it was extremely interesting and enjoyable.

Visited August 2012
Thank JoeJD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
124 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed August 10, 2012

We didn't have a lot of time, only a half-day, so we took the 36-mile scenic loop drive, and one short walk. We wondered why the ranger told us, when we entered the park, that the drive would take us 1 1/2 to 2 hours, but it's very scenic and, in our case, we were stopped for a while by a small herd of bison who decided to cross the road. All traffic stopped--and unfortunately for anyone on a schedule, so did the bison! They were on our right, our left, and directly in front, and they were bigger than our car, so we stayed put!
And we saw two groups of wild horses by the side of the road, two different areas of the park.
I also recommend stopping at the Painted Canyon Lookout at the east end of the south unit--especially in the mid-morning, when the colours are quite distinct.
I confess I had had no idea how much of an impact this part of North Dakota had on the development of Roosevelt's philosophy of life, or his determination to protect the environment and its wildlife. This site is a "must see".

Visited July 2012
1 Thank BluesInTO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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