Theodore Roosevelt National Park greets visitors with one of its most impressive views at Painted Canyon Visitor Center right along Interstate 94. The South Unit’s official entrance can be reached through the Medora exit. Admission is $10, which is good for seven days. The Visitor Center near the entrance has extensive displays on Theodore Roosevelt, but also an impressive prehistoric crocodile-like skeleton from the badlands’ days as an ancient swamp. With films, books and maps, it’s the best place to get oriented, figure out the best hikes and grab a free junior ranger workbook or family fun pack with field guides and binoculars.
Rangers offer daily tours of Theodore Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin at the visitor center where the 36-mile scenic loop drive begins. It passes at least four prairie dog towns, along with easy, interpretive places to hike including Ridgeline, Coal Vein and Wind Canyon trails.
Pre-trip tip: The national park site has coloring pages and activities related to the park on its website.