Nice Cabin, Mr. President!

Theodore Roosevelt’s Cabin in North Dakota

My list of National Parks I have yet to visit is growing shorter and shorter (Big Bend, TX, Dry Tortugas, FL, Lassen, CA, to name a few). Driving through North Dakota, I checked another off the list: Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

I knew nothing about TRNP before I turned in the gates, so when the park ranger at the entrance told me a ranger-led tour of Teddy Roosevelt’s cabin was starting in a few minutes, I drove right to the visitor center and joined the group.

Buffalo Skull & Teddy’s Maltese Cross Cabin

As it turns out, I have Teddy to thank for a vast chunk of the public lands I’ve been enjoying this summer: during his presidency (1901-1909) Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service and established 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks, and enabled the1906 American Antiquities Act which he used to proclaim 18 National Monuments. In all, Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land, over one-tenth of North America. Go Teddy!

Teddy’s Chair. The one on the left is authentic.

Teddy’s Woodstove. So beautiful!

Roosevelt’s passion for conservation was sparked in North Dakota, where he traveled to hunt bison in the 1880’s, only to find the bison all but gone — already on the verge of extermination by hide hunters. He later established the Maltese Cross Ranch near the town of Medora, now home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Bison were reintroduced to TRNP in the 1960’s. These days, several hundred bulls, cows and babies roam the North and South units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. During my drive through the South Unit, I got caught in a bison traffic jam, a small taste of the once wild Midwest!

Bleeding Bison Portrait, TRNP

Bowie & the Bison

Teddy Roosevelt’s Bison Herd

I love Teddy, but stay tuned to find out Why I Hate Mount Rushmore… >:{

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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9 Responses to Nice Cabin, Mr. President!

  1. Mary, thanks for sharing about Theodore Roosevelt. Oh, how we need more presidents with that kind of environmental awareness. I am so glad he tagged so much land for national parks and monuments. Big Bend: Several years ago Clifford and I went backpacking in Big Bend National Park. West Texas was quite drab in December, driving all those miles from Santa Fe to Big Bend, and the mountains looked barren when they came into view. But, when we got into them, it was wonderful… lush, in a desert sort of way. We found a small spring, so had fresh water, which enabled us to stay a day longer.
    Up on the ridge-top we could see for miles and miles into Mexico. After backpacking, we spent a night in one of the primitive sites on the outskirts before heading back to SF. Winter seems to be a good time to go, as it was in the 70’s in late December. I think you’ll enjoy your visit there, once the time comes. Carol

  2. Alice says:

    So glad we have the parks–thank goodness for those, like Roosevelt, who worked to preserve these beauties. We know the system is not perfect, but I shudder to think what our nation would be without these spaces.

  3. I can guess why you hate Mt. Rushmore…perhaps its the $11 …GOUGE that the charge you for parking…..( but it is good for one year…ya like most people will make weekly or Monthly trips)

  4. sixmilepress says:

    For Bowie & D.O.G.

    In 1903 Horatio Nelson Jackson and driving partner Sewall K. Crocker became the first people to drive an automobile across the United States. Somewhere in Idaho, Jackson and Crocker obtained a dog, a Pit Bull named Bud….

  5. Scott says:

    I watched a PBS series on this very president and what he did to establish these parks . . . very interest and cool. Can’t wait to hear your opinion on Mt. Rushmore . . . I as well am not fond of it.

  6. Don West says:

    Roosevelt was a very good President. He got things done for the good of the people and the environment. Of course the country was a different place back then.

  7. OK, I am still waiting, what about Mount Rushmore??

    • Haha I’ll get back to it, don’t worry. I was just feeling a bit blocked this week because I’ve already moved on to my next stage- the Appalachian Trail! I could not for the life of me get my mind back on the road trip.

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