Bison primarily eat grasses, weeds and leafy plants - typically foraging for 9-11 hours a day. That’s where the bison’s large protruding shoulder hump comes in handy during the winter. It allows them to swing their heads from side-to-side to clear snow -- especially for creating foraging patches.
President Barack Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law on May 9, 2016, designating the bison as the official mammal of the United States. The American bison is also an official symbol of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
From hunter to conservationist, Teddy Roosevelt helped save bison from extinction. In 1883, Teddy Roosevelt traveled to the Dakota Territory to hunt bison. After spending a few years in the west, Roosevelt returned to New York with a new outlook on life. He paved the way for the conservation movement, and in 1905, formed the American Bison Society with William Hornaday to save the disappearing bison.
In 1883, a young Theodore Roosevelt visited the Dakota Territory for the first time to “bag a buffalo.” His first visit to the frontier enchanted him so profoundly that it spurred a lifelong love affair with the region and in him a devout conservation ethic was born; an ethic that would shape the future of America’s conservation efforts and of the national parks that have served as our nation’s playgrounds for more than 100 years.
"It was here that the romance of my life began."
It took quite a bit of patience and luck to capture this shot of a Cottontail rabbit.
"Prairie-dogs are abundant...; they are in shape like little woodchucks, and are the most noisy and inquisitive animals imaginable. They are never found singly, but always in towns of several hundred inhabitants; and these towns are found in all kinds of places where the country is flat and treeless." - Theodore Roosevelt
An elk passes through the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Theodore Roosevelt called the elk a "stately and splendid deer, the lordliest of its kind throughout the world."
"...its toughness and hardy endurance fitted it to contend with purely natural forces...to resist cold and wintery blasts or the heat of the thirsty summer, to wander away to new pastures, to plunge over the broken ground, and to plow its way through snow drifts or quagmires." - Theodore Roosevelt
Bison may be big, but they’re also fast. They can run up to 35 miles per hour. Plus, they’re extremely agile. Bison can spin around quickly, jump high fences and are strong swimmers.
Feral horses have existed in the Badlands of western North Dakota since the mid-1800s. While ranching near Medora in the 1880s, Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
"In a great many - indeed, in most - localities there are wild horses to be found, which, although invariably of domestic descent, being either themselves runaways from some ranch or Indian outfit, or else claiming such for their sires and dams, yet are quite as wild as the antelope on whose domain they have intruded."
The horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park represent a huge attraction for many visitors.
You can judge a bison’s mood by its tail. When it hangs down and switches naturally, the bison is usually calm. If the tail is standing straight up, watch out! It may be ready to charge. No matter what a bison’s tail is doing, remember that they are unpredictable and can charge at any moment. Every year, there are regrettable accidents caused by people getting too close to these massive animals. It’s great to love the bison, but love them from a distance.
To enjoy Rough Rider County, follow the footsteps of America's rough-riding President, Theodore Roosevelt, at TR National Park, in the cities of Medora, Dickinson and Watford City and all along the North Dakota Badlands.
On the western edge of North Dakota with the Badlands as its backdrop, sits the historic town of Medora. This one of a kind town is better known as North Dakota’s #1 tourist destination. Medora is surrounded by breathtaking, unspoiled nature with Theodore Roosevelt National Park acting as its backyard. Known for its western culture, visitors will find this historic hub filled with an endless array of activities and events for all ages. Whatever your hobby may be, Medora has it all.
The Medora Musical is the "Greatest Show in the West!"
Set in the outdoor splendor of the rugged North Dakota Badlands, this professionally produced, high energy, western-style musical show is proudly dedicated to the legacy of America's 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, and the time he spent here in Medora, ND and the Badlands of the Dakota Territory.
For more than 50 years, this show has brought singing, dancing and boot-scootin’ tunes to the Burning Hills Amphitheater. Join the celebration of Theodore Roosevelt and the American West. There's no other show quite like it!
It’s a leap into the American West: the part of the country that feels like a cowboy movie, a place of bison and wild horses, where you may actually see antelope play. These are the Badlands, whose remote and moody geography seems a spectacularly unlikely setting for a long-running stage show, let alone one that attracts an average of nearly 1,200 people each night.
The Medora Musical is the rootin'-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the Midwest. There's no other show quite like it. It's an ode to patriotism and Theodore Roosevelt, learn more about the Greatest Show in the West...
Backed up by the dozen-strong Burning Hills Singers, the crooning host is a 33-year-old from suburban Minneapolis named Chet Wollan, who goes by Cowboy Chet in the show.
The official nickname for North Dakota is "The Peace Garden State." The North Dakota Motor Vehicle Department placed the phrase on license plates in 1956 (the International Peace Garden straddles the boundary between North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba). The nickname became so popular that it was formally adopted by North Dakota legislature in 1957.
Welcome to North Dakota, where legends are born. We invite you to channel your inner explorer and experience all there is to see and do in our great state; from outdoor activities to history and culture; from birding to biking. Let us show you our exciting attractions, special events and luxury accommodations.
The South Dakota Badlands is a national park that protects 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. Today, the park protects herds of bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets.
Sunset inside the South Unit of Badlands National Park.
This striking South Dakota landscape boasts a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires. Skeletons of three-toed horses and saber-toothed cats are among the many fossilized species found here.
Wildlife abounds in the park’s 244,000 acres and can often be seen while hiking, camping and traveling the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway.
Badlands National Park protects one of the largest expanses of mixed-grass prairie in the United States. The mixed-grass prairie contains both ankle-high and waist-high grasses, and fills a transitional zone between the moister tall-grass prairie to the east and the more arid short-grass prairie to the west.
The Needles of the Black Hills, SD are a region of eroded granite pillars, towers and spires. Popular with rock climbers and tourists alike, the Needles are accessed via South Dakota Highway 87.
During the Cold War, a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains. Hidden in plain sight, for thirty years 1,000 missiles were kept on constant alert; hundreds remain today. The Minuteman Missile remains an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. It holds the power to destroy civilization, but is meant as a nuclear deterrent to maintain peace and prevent war.
This National Historic Site preserves the last remaining Minuteman II ICBM system in the United States.
Rapid City, South Dakota is known as the "City of Presidents" for its series of life-size bronze statues of our nation’s past presidents that sit along the city’s streets and sidewalks.
The City of Presidents project began in 2000 to honor the legacy of the American Presidency. Each of the sculptures is privately funded and the pattern of placement is chosen to maintain a coherent structure and eliminate any sense of favoritism or political gain. The City of Presidents is part of the Rapid City Historic District.
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
George H. W. Bush (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
Deadwood, South Dakota has enjoyed a surge in popularity thanks to a successful HBO series (2004-06) that featured the 19th century Wild West town and its nefarious yet colorful characters.
The famous and the infamous have called Deadwood and the Black Hills home over the last several centuries. Lewis and Clark, Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, George Armstrong Custer, Poker Alice, the Sundance Kid, Calamity Jane and many others have all passed through here in search of fortune and adventure.
Art Alley is a unique asset to Rapid City, South Dakota. Located between 6th and 7th Street in downtown, Art Alley began in 2005 as a public arts project and has blossomed into a favorite among locals and tourists.
Located at Fort Hays is the Dances with Wolves film set, which you can see for free. View the original buildings used in the Academy Award-winning movie, which had box office sales of $424 million.
Released on November 21, 1990, Dances with Wolves won Best Picture and six additional Academy Awards. In 2007, Dances with Wolves was selected for preservation in the United States by the National Film Registry and the Library of Congress for being culturally significant.
You can leisurely browse the film set on a free self-guided tour and stand where John J. Dunbar (Kevin Costner) was given his new orders to Fort Sedgwick. Feel free to take photos and enjoy the South Dakota Film Museum where you will find the remnants of over 50 movies on display that were filmed in South Dakota.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The entire memorial covers 1,278 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level.
Each year, nearly three million visitors come to marvel at the majestic beauty of this American icon and learn about the birth, growth, development and preservation of our country.
The sculpture's roughly 60-ft.-high granite faces depict U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.