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The Most Dangerous Creatures in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to incredible scenery, fascinating geologic formations, and even some dangerous creatures.

If you’ve never been to this hidden gem, allow us to give you all the highlights!

We’ve put together a list of amazing attractions in and around the park, as well as a few of its animals you should avoid.

Let’s get into it!

About Theodore Roosevelt National Park

President Theodore Roosevelt spent part of his youth hunting bison in the North Dakota badlands. His love for this area would inspire the Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s establishment and many significant conservation efforts. 

The park is home to stunning landscapes and geological formations. Painted Canyon, an ancient petrified forest, and sprawling bison fields attract tourists yearly. 

This may be one of the most underrated of America’s national parks. 

Where Is Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

Millions of years ago, the western portion of present-day North Dakota was swampy and flat. But the end of the last ice age gave rise to the Missouri River, which carved a meandering path through the sediment.

When European settlers arrived, craggy canyons of mud and loose soil marked the area. The indigenous Lakota Peoples called this place “mako sica,” meaning “bad lands.” 

Indeed, these lands were no good for a horse and buggy. But they make for picturesque scenery today. 

Pro Tip: You’ll love exploring These 22 National Forest Campgrounds are Better (and Cheaper) Than National Parks.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Keep an eye out for the wildlife while exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

What Are the Most Dangerous Creatures in the Park?

While the landscape of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is breathtaking, several dangerous creatures inhabit this wilderness. 


Bison, also called Buffalo, are the largest mammals in North America. Centuries ago, this species was threatened by extinction. But today, their populations are restored due to conservation efforts. 

Theodore Roosevelt is credited with ensuring the survival of these dangerous creatures by designating land to the American Bison Society. There are roughly 500,000 bison on the continent.

These beasts stand over six feet tall and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Even more frightening is their ability to run 35 miles per hour. 

If you encounter a bison, give it plenty of space. Wildlife always has the right-of-way, so allow them to pass at a distance. Be sure to move slowly and quietly to avoid spooking them. 

Keeping dogs under control is crucial, as a noisy or frightened dog may cause a bison to charge. If you see a bison’s tail stick up, it’s ready to attack. 

Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs are highly social rodents that live in “towns” or “coteries” made up of dozens of burrows. They use chirps, barks, and squeaks to communicate with each other and alert their colony of impending threats like coyotes. 

These small critters are adorable but are also some of the most dangerous creatures in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

They have a fierce bite with strong, sharp teeth. Perhaps more hazardous are the fleas that typically live in their fur. These pests can transmit bubonic plague to humans.

Wild Horses

Few sights are more majestic than a herd of wild horses running free through the fields. Photographers are particularly drawn to them as focal points. But getting too close can cost you.

Wild horses are easily startled. Horses that feel threatened may charge, bite, or kick to defend themselves. 

To be safe, always keep a safe distance from wildlife. If you come across a wild horse, speak to it gently, so you don’t surprise it. 

If you’re visiting the park with your dog, ensure your pet is leashed, as horses may trample dogs that get too close. Anyone caught with an unleashed dog can face steep fines. 

wild horses running
You may get lucky and spot wild horses while in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Best Things To Do Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to much more than dangerous creatures. The natural attractions and history of the area lead to plenty of entertainment.

Medora Musical

The Medora Musical is a high-energy homage to the spirit of the west. This country-western musical production features singing, dancing, and historical reenactments. 

This show is dedicated to the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt and includes a dramatic rendition of the battle of San Juan Hill. In fact, even live horses take the stage. The finale is a massive fireworks show that illuminates the open skies.

The Medora Musical performs six days a week during the summer. You can purchase tickets ahead of time to make sure you get great seats. 

Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival

The remote location of the park makes it a stargazer’s paradise. That’s why the Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival meets here every year.

The festival includes three days and nights of storytelling, educational programs, and stargazing. 

During the day, attendees can build rockets, listen to guest speakers, and safely look at the sun through telescopes. At night, there are telescopes set up in the park, designated stargazing areas, and keynote speakers. 

Best Camping Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Even if you can’t attend the Astronomy Festival, you can still enjoy a night under the stars at one of the best camping spots in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

Scoria Pit Dispersed Camping

The Scoria Pit Dispersed Camping site is in the Little Missouri National Grassland. This secluded, rustic campground is nestled amongst the colorful badlands. 

The beautiful scenery at Scoria Pit makes this site especially popular on weekends, so get there early for a good spot.

Boondockers and tent campers are welcome here. And if you want to want to hike, the Petrified Forest trail is just north of the campsite. 

Pro Tip: Spend the night at one of these 5 Unusual Places to Camp in the USA.

Red Trail Campground

Red Trail Campground is a family-owned site with plenty of amenities. It has everything RVers need, such as electric, water, and sewer hookups and a dump station. There’s WiFi and a laundromat on site. 

While it isn’t as scenic as Scoria Pit, it’s closer to downtown Medora. This makes the site perfect for visitors who want to enjoy the town’s many restaurants and museums. 

Red Trail is open from May to September and offers sites for everyone from tent campers to big rigs. 


The badlands of North Dakota offer incredible scenery and stunning night skies. The rich history of the area only adds to its appeal. 

Whatever you do, don’t let a fear of dangerous creatures stop you from experiencing the wonders of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. If you follow park guidelines and give the wildlife plenty of space, this pristine corner of the wild west is perfectly safe.

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