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Drive Scenic Route to Oxbow Overlook

Watford City, North Dakota



28 miles

Route Type



Added by Mike Quine

Scenic Route to Oxbow Overllook is a 28-mile (round trip) vehicular odyssey into North Dakota's only National Park and namesake of the world's conservation movement mastermind - Theodore Roosevelt National Park. A park divided,  this is the scenic route that cuts through the Park's North Unit - the answer to its southern sister unit's scenic loop. Admire the route's numerous overlooks all while imagining a personally guided tour by one of our nation's greatest conservation heroes.

Theodore Roosevelt was undoubtedly the tip of what would become an ever-flying spear of the United States' conservation movement. It is fitting that this buffalo-seeking hero would have a park named after him. The 14-mile drive through the Park's North Unit allows adventurers and historians alike, to come together to appreciate a landscape and human figure that has and will continue to leave an impression. 

This scenic drive is not to be confused with the Scenic Loop of the Park's South Unit - though you will likely find fewer crowds along this drive. In fact, its highly likely that you will see far more of our late President's highly-coveted buffalo than you are to see swarms of people (season-dependent, of course). 

The scenic route begins at the North Unit Entrance, off of route 85, and proceeds west through the park. As there is only one entrance to the park, this is not a loop, but rather an in-and-out route. It is worth noting that on your approach to the park from the east, you will encounter hypnotizing stretches of grasslands before the Park's tell-tale buttes present themselves in all their glory. 

Once in the confines of the Park's boundary's, you will eventually approach the scenic route's nine jaw-dropping pullouts. Geologic artistry at its finest. The road ultimately terminates at the Oxbow Overlook, where even the most rushed visitors are paused to appreciate the captivating wonder before them. Its easy to get lost in the wonder these views generate, which any on-looker would almost assuredly share with the late President Teddy Roosevelt.

As a word of caution: the indigenous buffalo are a wildlife wonder to behold, though make no mistake, disrespecting these enormous land mammals can only end poorly for you. On a similar note, rattlesnakes are also keen to hiding in the tall grasses if you opt to partake down the Park's many trails. 

It is also recommended to consider camping at the North Unit's Juniper campground or out in its vast backcountry. This scenic route may be an adventure in and of itself or the platform to map an extended adventure through the park.

Did someone mention stargazing? 

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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