Tag Archives: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Sidebars on National Memorials

This post is a sidebar to my main post on “When Is a National Memorial a National Park?” with some interesting side notes and related facts that didn’t fit into the main post.

Sidebar #1

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial bookends the National Mall on the east end. Although it has a Passport stamp, it is not one of the memorials officially recognized as a national memorial. Photo from 2015.
The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial bookends the National Mall on the east end. Although it has a Passport stamp, it is not one of the memorials officially recognized as a national memorial. Photo from 2015.

It should be noted that there are many more memorials in the Washington, DC area, almost all of which are part of the U.S. National Park System through the National Capital Parks catchall unit.  Many of these memorials even have their own Passport cancellations, namely the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, the George Mason Memorial,  the Francis Scott Key Memorial, the John Ericsson Memorial, the John Paul Jones Memorial,  the District of Columbia World War Memorial,  the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the African-American Civil War Memorial, and the Memorial to Japanese-American Patriotism in World War II.  Also included in this group are the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Saipan American Memorial Affiliated Area in the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Cape Henry Memorial, where a French fleet cut off the British army’s escape from Yorktown during the American Revolution, at Colonial National Historical Park.  Each of these memorials is considered to be a Congressionally-authorized commemorative work, of which there are many others, particularly in Washington, DC – but they do not rise to the level of being national memorials.

Sidebar #2

This reconstruction of a fort built by Lewis & Clark on the Pacific Coast was original designated as Fort Clatsop National Memorial, before being incorporated into an expanded and redesignated Lewis & Clark National Historical Park in 2004 during the expedition's bicentennial celebration.
This reconstruction of a fort built by Lewis & Clark on the Pacific Coast was original designated as Fort Clatsop National Memorial.  Photo from 2004.

Two national parks were originally designated as national memorials, but have since been renamed.  The present-day Lewis & Clark National Historical Park incorporated the area originally-designated as Fort Clatsop National Memorial in Oregon.  The original designation was made because the Fort Clatsop at the center of the park was a reconstruction of the fort built by the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to spend the winter near the Pacific Ocean in 1805-1806.

The present-day Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota was originally established as Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park, and so is no longer a national memorial.

Sidebar #3

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is also a memorial to the many historical events that happened there.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is also a memorial to the many historical events that happened there. Photo from 2015.

It is also worth noting that a handfull of national monuments dedicated to historical resources and one national historical park are actually described by Congress in their authorizing legislation as national memorials.  However, they do not seem to be listed anywhere else as national memorials, so I am not including them in the overall count, but I will nonetheless mention them here:

In addition to those, there are the George Washington Memorial Parkway in northern Virginia and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway connecting Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming.  Neither appears to be considered an official national memorial either – although if you did, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. would join Robert L. Kohnstamm as the only conservationists with national memorials dedicated to them.

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

30 for 300 – Part II

In continuing celebration of having reached my milestone 300th U.S. National Park visited, I’m posting about 30 of my favorite memories from my national park visits thus far.

Click here for Part I – #21-#30.

#20) Hiking to Mt. Olympus Viewpoint at Olympic National Park – August 2003
National parks are often places for testing our limits.  On a visit to the vast Olympic National Park in Washington, my friend and I naturally hoped to catch a glimpse of Mount Olympus.  The only problem was that reaching any of the viewpoints for Mount Olympus required an extensive hike in to the interior of the Park.  My friend and I compounded the problem by insisting upon going for a loop trail – in this case, one that was a whopping 20 miles.  Suffice to say, we were neither suffiicently prepared nor properly conditioned for a hike of that length.  By the time we dragged ourselves back to the car, a couple hours after sunset, we were both completely and utterly exhausted.  Still, we did catch that glimpse of Mount Olympus!  Well, just barely, as we had to look for it between breaks in the clouds.

The author, catching a fleeting glimpse of the glaciers on Mount Olympus, midway through a massive 20-mile hike.
The author, catching a fleeting glimpse of the glaciers on Mount Olympus, midway through a massive 20-mile hike.

 

#19) Landing at Portsmouth Village on Cape Lookout National Seashore – July 2002
By coincidence, I have two hikes in a row that were both a little more than I had bargained for.  As mentioned in this Parkasaurus post,  Portsmouth Village is one of the best-preserved ghost towns and one of the most-difficult to reach Passport cancellations on the East Coast.  Just to get to the site, you need to take a ferry from the mainland to Ocracoke Island in Cape Hatteras National Seashore,  and then from there hire another boat to take you over to Portsmouth Island.   The ghost town of Portsmouth Village was interesting enough, but what my friend and I were completely unprepared for were the absolute clouds of mosquitoes!   I remember applying multiple layers of high-strength Deet, and still seeing the mosquitoes line up on my blue jeans trying to find a way in!   Fortunately, the kind Park Rangers on the island took mercy on my friend and I gave us a ride on their Gator to help speed along our visit!  No, they didn’t actually let us drive it – but they did let us pose for this photograph!

The author and his friend, escaping the mosquitoes any way they can – with the help of some kind Park Rangers.

 

#18) Hiking the Savage River Trail in Denali National Park & Preserve – September 2008
By contrast, I have nothing but fond memories of this hike in Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve.  Our first day in Denali, my wife and I took an all-day bus tour out to Wonder Lake, which of course has been made famous by the photography of Ansel Adams.  Although we weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Mount McKinley on that day, we had enough exciting encounters with Alaskan wildlife to fill a scrapbook full of memories.  For our second day, we decided to head out on our own to enjoy some of the Alaskan solitude.  The Savage River Trailhead is the furthest point into the Park that you can drive your own vehicle without a special permit, and this late in the season, we seemingly had this part of the park all to ourselves.   Even though it was only Labor Day weekend, this was already pretty late in the visitaiton season for Denali – indeed, the plants on the tundra were already beautiful fall colors of red and gold.   The image that sticks with me from this trip, however, is reaching the end of the marked trail and seeing the Savage River valley stretch off into the seemingly infinite Alaska wilderness.

The Savage River heads off into the Alaskan wilderness, and the untapped possibilities ahead.

 

#17) Patriot Day at Minute Man National Historical Park – April 2005
The American Revolution began with the “shots heard ’round the world” in the villages of Lexington and Concord, an event now marked every year as Patriots’ Day in the State of Massachusetts.  Normally, visiting a national park in the morning is a good way to beat the crowds – but not on Patriots’ Day in and around Minute Man National Historical Park.  A reenactment is held each year on Lexington Green (technically not part of the National Park Service’s property), followed by commeorative ceremonies at Old North Bridge in Concord.  The event begins  in Lexington at 5:30am – and literally every parking lot in the village of Lexington is packed.  Savvy locals get there even earlier than that with step ladders to provide viewing points for their young children.  The reenactment event itself, true to history, only lasts a few minutes; the Americans fire a few shots, the British fire back, and the Americans run,   Afterwards, it seems that almost everyone heads over to the local Catholic Church, located just off the Green, to enjoy a pancake breakfast sponsored by the local Boy Scout Troop.  Smart thinking by those Scouts!

The statue of the Minute Man, located just off Lexington Green, in the soft glow of sunrise on Patriots’ Day.

 

#16) Sequoia National Park, Home of the Big Trees – August 2009
In 2009, I attended my first Convention of the National Park Traveler’s Club, held that year at Sequoia National Park.  It was great to spend the weekend with so many people who were dedicated to visiting the U.S. National Park System, especially in such a stunning setting.  Although I had previously seen the world’s tallest trees at Redwood National Park, it was little preparation for seeing the true giants of the Kingdom of Life growing on the edges of alpine meadows.  Looking up, it can be somewhat hard to comprehend the soaring heights of the Redwood.  On the other hand, when you stand at the base of sequoia that is many times the circumference of any other tree you have ever seen, there is no mistaking that you are in the land of giants.

Sequoias often grow best on the edges alpine meadows, which create particularly picutresque settings.
Sequoias often grow best on the edges alpine meadows, which create particularly picutresque settings.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the sheer size of these trees quite like this picture of a toppled sequoia.  Even laid flat on its side, the sequoia still towers over the trees around it.

Sequoias remain larger than life, even in death.
Sequoias remain larger than life, even in death.  Yes, that is young sequoia from the next generation in the distance.

 

#15) Waking up to Bison at Breakfast at Theodore Roosevelt National Park – July 2004
If you talk to enough travelers in the U.S. National Parks, many of them are likely to agree: Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota (of all places!) is one of the true hidden gems of the whole U.S. National Park System.   I previously blogged a little bit about this Park back in December 2014. and highlighted the spectacular scenary, the history of Theodore Roosevelt’s days as a rancher in this area, and the unusual rock concretions in the shape of mushrooms.  On my trip in 2004, however, the biggest surprise was waking up in the morning in the Juniper Campground in the Park’s North Unit to the sounds and smells of herd of bison wandering their way through the campground!   I guess that when you are bison, you go where you please, and in this case, that was right past our tent!   Normally, Park Rangers wisely advise everyone to keep a very respectful distance from bison – but in this case that wasn’t an option!  Suffice to say that I got as close to the snorting and grunting bison as I will ever want to be.   Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and the memories were unforgettable!

With a site like this right outside your tent, you don't even need to wait for your coffee in the morning!
With a site like this right outside your tent, you don’t even need to wait for your coffee in the morning!

 

#14) Father’s Day Riding the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at Cuyahoga Valley National Park – June 2013
Like many young boys, my now-four-year-old Juniot T-Rex has long had a love affair with trains.  So when travels to visit family took us through northeast Ohio on Father’s Day weekend in 2013, there was an obvious way to combine daddy’s love of national parks and son’s love of trains – a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.   Suffice to say my little T. Rex was beside himself with joy to be riding the train.  The conductors even let him help punch the tickets while on board.   The train  railroad provides service from nearby Canton to various stops throughout the Park, and runs frequently enough that it can even be used to support a short visit or hike within the Park before being boarded for a return trip.

A trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a joy for kids both big and small.  Photo from 2005.
A trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a joy for kids both big and small. Photo from 2005.

 

#13) Backpacking with Friends at Death Valley National Park – January 2009
On my first visit to Death Valley National Park, in January 2005, I remember feeling profoundly small.  That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering that Death Valley has one of the largest vertical elevation gains in the country, from 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin to more than 11,000 feet in elevation on nearby Telescope Peak.

In January 2009, I returned with two of my friends from college for an overnight trip in the Death Valley backcountry.   Backpacking is itself a humbling experience, especially in a desert park like Death Valley, as everything you need for survival in the loneliness of the backcountry must be carried in with you.  After our excursion, we did take some time to take in the salt flats in Badwater Basin and enjoy the otherworldly landscape of the lowest point in the United States.

Three friends celebrating a successful hike to the back-country
Three friends celebrating a successful hike in the Death Valley back-country with some sight-seeing at the lowest point in North America.

 

#12) New Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Memorial – December 2007
I’ve previously blogged about my love for the Lincoln Memorial.   I’ve actually twice spent New Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Memorial.  The first time, in 1999, was for Washington’s commemoration of the turning of the Millenium.  That event was nice enough, with the highlight being when they shot fireworks off the scaffolding that was then-surrounding the Washington Monument.  The down-side is that it was very much a made-for-TV event.  So, when the TV Network went to a commercial break, everything stopped and you were reminded that you were standing in the cold and in the mud, with nothing to do until the commercial break ended.   So that event doesn’t make my Top 30.

However, eight years later I returned to the Lincoln Memorial on New Year’s Eve, with my then-fiancee, the future Mrs. Parkasaurus.  Many people may not realize, but Washington actually does not normally have an outdoor New Year’s Eve event.  So on December 31st, 2007 it almost felt like my fiancee had the illuminated Memorials on the National Mall to ourselves.   As we climbed the steps of the Lincoln Memorial just before midnight, we shared that special moment  transitioning from one year to the next with just the security guard and two other couples who had similar ideas.  It was a fantastic New Year’s Eve like no other.

The view from the top of the Lincoln Memorial at night is one to be savored. Photo from July 2011.

 

#11) The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park – September 2012
For the past four years, the National Park Service has put on a number of events marking the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Although as a family with two young children, we have attended fewer of these events than I might otherwise have liked, we definitely made it a special point to go to some of the events marking the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Harper’s Ferry, given our special connection to this Park.   We’re glad that we did.

On the night of September 12, 2012 costumed interpreters from the National Park Service helped recreate several scenes from the night of September 12, 1862.   That was the night that Union troops,  recognizing that their position was indefensible, abandoned the town of Harpers Ferry to be captured by the Confederates the next day.  Visitors were led by lantern light to various locations around the historic downtown where the costumed interpreters using material from actual letters and diary entries from 1862 really helped recreate some of the thoughts and emotions that various townspeople in Harpers Ferry must have been feeling on that night – both those who would be leaving, as well as those who would be left behind.   Quite simply it was not a night that I will not soon forget.

Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park is where history happens. Photo from April 2015.

I hope you enjoyed Part II of my 30 for 300 retrospective.

In case you missed it, here is a link to Part I with #’s 21-30, here is Part III with #’s 1-10, and here are the Honorable Mentions.

Part II Pictures

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

December Stamps: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota offers spectacular scenery of the Little Missouri River from the park's North Unit.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota offers spectacular scenery of the Little Missouri River from the park’s North Unit.

I’m a little late in getting to this post this month, which is ironic as there is actually only one new stamp from Eastern National for the month of December:

  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park | Elkhorn Ranch

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a true hidden gem of a national park, located in western North Dakota.   Talk to many people who have visited a lot of national parks, and I guarantee that more than a few will list Theodore Roosevelt as providing more spectacular scenery and natural beauty than they had expected.

Theodore Roosevelt the man was born in 1858 into a life of relative privilege, a story that is now told by the reconstructed home at Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site in New York City.   When he was 26, tragedy struck his life on Valentine’s Day 1884.  His mother passed away from typhoid fever in the early morning hours, and then later that same day, in the same house, his first wife, Alice, died of kidney failure – just two days after giving birth to their first child, Alice Lee.   Overcome with grief, Roosevelt famously wrote in his diary, “the light has gone out in my life” below a large “X” on the same page.

Roosevelt would entrust his baby daughter to care of his sister, and head off to the badlands of North Dakota.   Roosevelt had visited North Dakota the previous year on a hunting trip, and had become a partner in a ranching venture out there with two others.   This time, he would establish his own ranch, the Elkhorn Ranch.

Theodore Roosevelt originaly came to North Dakota on a hunting trip, and his disappointment at the despoiled wildlife would lead him to a lifetime of conservation.   Today, the national park is a refuge for bison, which you might find right outside your tent in the morning, if you are lucky.
Theodore Roosevelt originaly came to North Dakota on a hunting trip, and his disappointment at the despoiled wildlife would lead him to a lifetime of conservation. Today, the national park is a refuge for bison, which you might find right outside your tent in the morning, if you are lucky.

 

Roosevelt would spend about three years at the Elkhorn Ranch.   There’s no doubt that his time in the North Dakota badlands profoundly impacted him, making him a conservationist, and impressing upon him the value of outdoor living and recreation.  He would later say that “I would never have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.”

After about three years, the unusually severe winter of 1886-1887 would wipe out his cattle herd, like many others in the area.   Having lost his investment, he would return back east to re-enter politics (something he actually had really never left), marry his childhood friend Edith Kermit Carow, and reclaim custody of baby Alice Lee (who was now three.)

In 1947, President Truman would establish this area of the North Dakota badlands as Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park.   In 1978, the park was expanded and renamed Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Today the Park is comprised of two major units.  The North Unit is located just outside of Watford City, ND – in the heart of North Dakota’s shale oil boom.   This part of the park has spectacular views of the Little Missouri River cutting across the landscape, like the photo at the top of this article.

Rock concretions give the appearance of enormous mushrooms in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Rock concretions give the appearance of enormous mushrooms in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

 

The South Unit is located right outside the resort town of Medora and right off Interstate-94.    This area of the Park is particularly famous for its spectacular rock formations and petrified wood – making it a fantastic location for an easy day-hike.   Both the South Unit and the North Unit have bison herds, so you may see bison in either section of the park.

Finally, Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is located 35 miles on a dirt road north of the South Unit Visitor Center near Medora.    Unfortunately, I didn’t make it up to that part of the park during my one visit (so far) to this National Park, so I don’t have any pictures.   However, the National Park Service website for the park has some nice short videos on Elkhorn Ranch that are very much worth checking out.

The Elkhorn Ranch is the fourth Passport Stamp for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, joining one stamp for the North Unit and two stamps for the South Unit (South Unit and Painted Canyon.)   With this new stamp,  there are now 1,946 active Passport Cancellations out there.

A final shot from Theodore Roosevelt National Park
A final shot from the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Note: All pictures in this post are from the Parkasaurus’ visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2004.
Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus