9 Can't-Miss Photo Ops in Theodore Roosevelt National Park | Midwest Living

9 Can't-Miss Photo Ops in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Colorful landscapes, wildlife encounters, and jaw-dropping views make North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park a photographer’s dream. If you visit, make sure to capture these photo ops.

Beth Mancuso is a Minnesota-based photographer who loves to hike, camp and explore. She visits at least one national park a year and has visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park twice. A third visit is planned to say her vows in summer 2019. Here are 9 of her favorite view spots at Theodore Roosevelt National Park:

1 Wild horses Perhaps the most magical part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the free-roaming horses, found only in the South Unit. They are best spotted around dawn or dusk. We saw them most frequently around Jules Creek, on the stretch of road from Boicourt Trail to Jones Trail.

Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo: Beth Mancuso

2 Wind Canyon Trail This short 0.4-mile trail offers one of the best views of the Little Missouri River. The wind-sculpted canyon and the overlook of the river make this a popular place to watch the sunset.

Wind Canyon Trail

Wind Canyon Trail. Photo: Beth Mancuso

3 Boicourt Trail Boicourt Trail leads to one of the most beautiful views in the South Unit. You can see the Badlands stretch for miles here, and you feel like you’re on the top of the world. Like the Wind Canyon Trail, it's a fantastic spot to watch the sunset.

Boicourt Trail

Boicourt Trail. Photo: Beth Mancuso

4 Peaceful Valley Ranch Located in the South Unit, Peaceful Valley dates to the 1800s. You’ll feel like you have stepped back in time. Used for many years as a base for horseback rides, the ranch is currently not occupied, but is still worth a visit and makes for unique photos.  

Peaceful Valley ranch

Peaceful Valley Ranch. Photo: Beth Mancuso

5 Bison Bison roam free in both the South and North units of the park. These creatures are so impressive in size. Seeing them in large herds makes for some amazing wildlife photos. Be sure to keep your distance from the bison for safety.


Bison. Photo: Beth Mancuso

6 Oxbow Overlook Located in the North Unit, Oxbow Overlook offers the most dramatic view in the park. Steep, colorfu canyons stretch almost horizon to horizon, and in the distance, you can see the Little Missouri River.

Oxbow Overlook

Oxbow Overlook. Photo: Beth Mancuso

7 Cannonball Concretions Pullout A fascinating geological oddity awaits in the North Unit—“cannonball”-shaped boulders called concretions, formed when sand grains from an ancient river become cemented together by minerals.

Cannonball concretions

Cannonball Concretions Pullout. Photo: Beth Mancuso

8 Caprock Coulee Trail This trail leads to some of the best views of the North Unit. You can photograph the steep, narrow valleys called coulees, formed by water erosion, as well as see hillside rivulet erosion. Plants such as chokecherry, sagebrush and prickly pear cactus grow in spots. The 4-mile trail can be pretty strenuous; plan on 2 to 3 hours to complete it.

Caprock Coulee Trail

Caprock Coulee Trail. Photo: Beth Mancuso

9 Painted Canyon Overlook This overlook, at the visitor center outside the South Unit, affords panoramic views of the canyon. This is an excellent place to stop if you are short on time or to get an introduction to the park. A nature trail leads down into the canyon.

Painted Canyon Overlook

Painted Canyon Overlook. Photo: Beth Mancuso

Read more about Beth Mancuso on her website or follow her on Instagram @intothewild.wego


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