Tiny Medora (population: 142) makes a good base to explore Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Learn about Roosevelt’s legacy at activities in town, then head out—by bike, foot, car or horse—to explore the stark beauty of the badlands.
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visitors at theodore roosevelt national park
Credit: Ryan Donnell

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.

Do

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
Credit: Ryan Donnell

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 Daay Hey Trail North Dakota
Maah Daay Hey Trail
| Credit: John Noltner

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.

medora musical amphitheater
Credit: Ryan Donnell

Medora Musical

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.

Perception Medora

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.

Point-to-Point Park

Soar on the zipline, play minigolf or float the lazy river at this new downtown Medora park.

wind canyon overlook sunset
Credit: Ryan Donnell

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 bartender
Credit: Ryan Donnell

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.

The Brew

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.

Medora Uncork'd

Cheese and charcuterie trays and imaginative pizza pairings complement a lengthy wine list at the Medora restaurant and wine bar.

workers at pitchfork steak fondue
Credit: Ryan Donnell

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.

Stay

Rough Riders hotel Medora North Dakota
Rough Riders Hotel
| Credit: John Noltner

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