Travis Shepherd, Bettendorf, Iowa
Some time ago I read that North Dakota is the least visited state in the country. As I drove West on vacation I took a small detour to see for myself and found that people were missing out on a hidden treasure.
North Dakota is beautiful, the cities are nice, and after visiting dozens of national parks across the country, I can say that Theodore Roosevelt National Park is my absolute favorite. Despite the traffic from the oil trucks and the eyesores called drilling wells that dotted the land around it, I was enamored by the park's unique geography and beautiful wildlife.
This past summer I stopped through again, as I hope to do at least once a year, and was appalled to see the oil industry has virtually taken over western North Dakota. The traffic was horrible, the eyesores seem to have quadrupled, and the towns around it seem dirtier. After chatting with some campers I was sad to find out they were less than impressed and did not plan on ever coming back. They agreed on all the fine points of the park but all of that was ruined by the interstate noise throughout the night. Had that been my first impression, I might have been inclined to agree.
I refuse to give up on this underappreciated area but I'm afraid the politicians already have. I beg everyone to do your part to reduce oil consumption and do not allow the oil industry to destroy the Badlands. If you can save it, I promise to visit as often as I can and get as many people as I can to do the same.