Theodore Roosevelt first fell in love with the rugged landscape of the American West while hunting bison in North Dakota in 1883. Over the next few years, Roosevelt invested in and developed cattle ranches throughout the region, increasingly interested in conservation. After becoming president in 1901, Roosevelt used his authority to protect approximately 230 million acres of public land. On April 25, 1947, President Truman established the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park.
Long before a young Roosevelt came to the area, a variety of cultures inhabited the badlands region for thousands of years, filling the vibrant landscape with legends, lore, and sacred places. Prehistoric people considered the buttes the homes of many animal spirits, visiting the badlands on vision quests or other rituals, in addition to their hunting and gathering. Today, the park offers visitors the opportunity to connect with the land’s rich cultural history that captured the imagination of Roosevelt and inspired a legacy of conservation in our public lands.