Midwest Living Review
For years, Medora has served as North Dakota's top tourism destination, and it continues to work to earn visitors' attention. Settled in 1883 in the stunning badlands, Medora is named for the wife of founder Marquis de Mores, a young French nobleman with a sense of adventure who came to the Dakota territories and opened a meat-packing plant, a few stores and a hotel. Now a state historic site, the couple's summer home is open for tours, and nearly everything that's inside is original to the house. The stronger influence in town, though, stems from the time Theodore Roosevelt lived here in 1883 before becoming president in 1909. TR owned two ranches here, and the stunning landscape encouraged Roosevelt to establish the national park system. The sprawling Theodore Roosevelt National Park next to Medora draws thousands of visitors each year eager to snap photos of the bison, wild horses, elk, pronghorn sheep and mule deer wandering the badlands landscape. The town fell into disrepair during the middle of the 20th century, and in 1962, a philanthropist named Harold Schafer (inventor of Mr. Bubble bubble bath) began pouring money into Medora to restore it and draw families here to visit. He established the "Medora Musical," a seasonal nightly show in an outdoor amphitheater that celebrates a love of North Dakota, a Theodore Roosevelt history lesson and a Christian family theme. Schafer died in 2001, but his widow, Sheila, still lives in town, and the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation carries on Schafer's vision. In 2005, the Bully Pulpit Golf Course opened and nestled its 18 holes among the badlands' towering buttes. Western Edge Books, Art and Music has become known as one of the leading Western-themed bookstores in the country. A new spa offers massages and hydrotherapy treatments. And the old Rough Riders Hotel unveiled its stunning renovation in 2010 and opened an upscale steak house off of the lobby.