Top Things to Do Around Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora, North Dakota
Past the bales of hay reaching the horizon along Interstate-94 stands moonlike Painted Canyon, the first glimpse of the badlands. Here in western North Dakota, endless buttes loom over Medora like watchful guardians.
On one end of town, a visitors center salutes the Mr. Bubble millionaire who rescued Medora from obscurity during the 1960s. Nearby, guests at the 1884 Rough Riders Hotel curl up in comfy chairs and read up on Roosevelt history with books borrowed from the hotel library. At the other end of town, across the Little Missouri River, the Burning Hills Amphitheatre's Medora Musical entertains audiences with a mix of country tunes, square dancing, Theodore Roosevelt history and Scripture.
But all of that falls second to the landscape. The stark beauty of the badlands—steep, multicolor canyon walls and wide vistas under a clear blue bowl of North Dakota sky—inspires visitors to follow Roosevelt's footsteps, whether by bike, foot, car or horse.
Badlands Dinosaur Museum
In addition to gawking over an extensive collection of gemstones and dino skeletons, watch paleontologists at work at this museum in Dickinson.
Bully Pulpit Golf Course
Rugged buttes rise above 18 holes that conform to the wild terrain, challenging golfers and granting picturesque views.
Chateau de Mores
In 1883, a French aristocrat and entrepreneur built a two-story, 26-room mansion and established the town he named for his wife, Medora. Tours of the home give a glimpse into the town's origins. Twenty-minute History Alive! programs are presented on weekends on the porch.
Dakota Cyclery Mountain Bike Adventures
Outdoor enthusiasts can rent bikes and ride through the badlands with these passionate cyclists. A shuttle service moves camping gear and coolers for those who want to do overnighters.
Harold Schafer Heritage Center
Learn about the Mr. Bubble millionaire who rescued Medora from obscurity in the 1960s.
Maah Daah Hey Trail
Rough badlands and rolling prairies await cyclists, horseback riders and hikers along the eight segments of the trail, stretching between two U.S. Forest Service campgrounds and touching the North and South units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The show—which debuted in 1965— brings singing, dancing and boot-scootin' tunes to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. Join the celebration of Theodore Roosevelt and the American West. For an additional charge, take a behind-the-scenes tour.
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
The tribute to Native Americans, ranchers and rodeo riders features exhibits such as clothing worn by cowboys and Native Americans, and fine art of cowboy culture.
Old Red Old Ten Scenic Byway
Quaint towns and quirky sites along the 108-mile route (from Mandan to Dickinson, 36 miles east of Medora) offer reasons to skip the interstate and stick to Old Highway 10.
Water runs upstream and people appear to shrink or walkup walls through a series of optical illusions in this Medora attraction. Tours of the slanting house depart about every 30 minutes.
Soar on the zipline, play minigolf or float the lazy river at this new downtown Medora park.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The national park is divided into two main units. Along the South Unit's loop road, you'll find scenic vistas, short hikes (no longer than 1 mile), bison and hoodoos to climb among. Look for furry little creatures scurrying in the fields at Prairie Dog Town. You may find it easier to spot bison herds on the 14-mile scenic drive through the North Unit (66 miles away).
Big views and greenery characterize the park's North Unit, where you might see bighorn sheep and longhorn steer. The most unique geological feature: cannonball concretions, perfectly round boulders that you can climb among.
Western Edge Books, Artwork, Music
The frontier-focused bookstore stocks Western stories on outlaws, cowboys, women of the West and natural history.
Eat and Drink
Badlands Pizza Parlor
Medora's spot for good pies; try the Badlands Bob if you're a meat-lover.
Boots Bar and Grill
Start with baked garlic pretzels and chokecherry jam and wash it all down with a signature cocktail in a boot at the Medora restaurant.
In Dickinson, 40 minutes east of Medora, heavenly coffee drips in an 1887 church-turned-cafe with booths made from original pews. Locally inspired sandwiches include The Medora (avocado, pepper Jack, sprouts, onions and marinated black beans).
The Farmhouse Cafe
The rustic restaurant wins raves for its brunch—hearty omelets, North Dakota sausage and chocolate-drizzled, deep-fried Croissant French Toast.
Hatlee + Brae
Cool down with flavors like Huckleberry and Black Licorice at this combo ice cream/gift shop in downtown Medora.
Cheese and charcuterie trays and imaginative pizza pairings complement a lengthy wine list at the Medora restaurant and wine bar.
Pitchfork Steak Fondue
Cowboys plunge pitchforks of steaks into 400-degree oil, where they sizzle to doneness. Medora diners add potatoes, baked beans, slaw, garlic toast, brownies and doughnuts for a country feast that was featured on Food Network.
Theodore's Dining Room
Diners slice into walleye, bison and other entrees reminiscent of the American West in a dining room warmed by a fire crackling under a bronze bust of Teddy Roosevelt. In this Rough Riders Hotel restaurant in Medora, bartenders at TR's Tavern sling local beers.
Rough Riders Hotel
Eight rooms original to the 1884 hotel remain, but the 68 tower rooms are just as classy with oak and red-velvet furniture plus pillow-top beds.
For more information visit medora.com