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Theodore Roosevelt’s North Dakota: Badlands, Bison, and the Making of a Conservationist – Register with Smithsonian Associates

September 14 - September 18

Fly west and experience the wild beauty of the Dakota Territory that shaped young Theodore Roosevelt’s course as a conservationist and naturalist.

Register Here.

In 1883, Theodore Roosevelt looked to the Badlands of western North Dakota as a place where he could transform himself from an asthmatic 24-year-old New Yorker into a big-game hunter, rancher, and authentic cowboy. A year later, it took on new meaning as a place of refuge and solace after the deaths of his wife and mother.

Over the course of the more than three decades he lived or visited there, the Badlands did indeed transform Roosevelt into the kind of vigorous outdoorsman that he’d idealized as a youth—and that shaped his public image as president. Perhaps more importantly, this corner of the West turned him into a passionate conservationist dedicated to the preservation of the rugged landscapes and native wildlife of the place he described as “where the romance of my life began.”

Experience those landscapes—filled with dramatic vistas, vividly colored canyons, and wandering herds of wild bison—on a 5-day study tour led by author and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley that brings you into the heart of Roosevelt’s Badlands and the national park that bears his name.

The tour begins in Bismarck with a welcome dinner and introduction by the tour staff. The following morning, travel by bus to the historic town of Medora, where the Rough Riders Hotel (the modern incarnation of an inn where TR once stayed) provides a base for the group. Over the course of the next days, explore the north and south units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park by bus and on foot, as well as the site of Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch along the Little Missouri River (easy and moderate hiking options offered). Clay Jenkinson, Theodore Roosevelt Humanities Scholar at Dickinson State University’s Theodore Roosevelt Center, and National Park Service rangers offer insights into Roosevelt’s pivotal years in the Badlands and the area’s natural history.

Say farewell to North Dakota with an intimate private reception and a performance by local musician Jessie Veeder at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora.

The next morning, the return trip to Bismarck includes a stop


September 14
September 18


Smithsonian Associates
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