Two-Day Getaway in Medora, North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt referred to his time in North Dakota saying, "Here the romance of my life began." One visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park explains his love affair. Some 70,000 acres of painted canyons and grassy trails embrace the Little Missouri River on the western edge of the state. Cowboy town Medora's lineup of amenities make it a pleasant base to explore the badlands Teddy loved.
Head straight for the main attraction: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which has two main units. A good first stop is the South Unit Visitor Center, with a museum, theater with 17-minute park film, and Roosevelt's Maltese Cross Cabin. Rangers can help you plan your hikes and drives.
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.
Big views and greenery characterize the more isolated North Unit (50 miles away), where you might see bighorn sheep, bison and longhorn steer. The most unique geological feature: cannonball concretions, perfectly round boulders that you can climb among.
If you've still got time when you return to Medora, head to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, which pays tribute to Native Americans, ranchers and rodeo riders.
Fine dining meets Western chic at Theodore's Dining Room inside Rough Riders Hotel. The ribeye is prelude to a sweet stay in rooms with Victorian oak armoires, red velvet furniture and pillow-top beds.
The Farmhouse Cafe wins raves for its brunch—hearty omelets, North Dakota sausage and chocolate-drizzled, deep-fried Croissant French Toast.
Even beginners can get on the Maah Daah Hey Trail on trips with Dakota Cyclery Mountain Bike Adventures. The trail leads bikers and hikers over rolling prairie and rough badlands, from the North Unit of the national park to Medora.
Or take in a challenging 18 holes at Bully Pulpit Golf Course a few miles south of town. Rugged badlands provide a spectacular backdrop.
Tours of the 1880s Chateau de Mores State Historic Site cover the history of the aristocratic French couple who settled the town.
Teddy comes to life-as president, family man, soldier, hunter and rancher-in the rousing performance by an expert impersonator in The Teddy Roosevelt Show.
Wrap up your Medora stay with a combo of a Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner and a showing of the Medora Musical. "Cowboy cooks" at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue impale steaks 10 at a time and plunge them into 400-degree oil. Load your plate with all the fixings and eat as you watch the sun dropping over the badlands.
The Medora Musical is the essential experience in western North Dakota, celebrating Teddy Roosevelt and America with song-and-dance routines. The Burning Hills Amphitheatre overlooks a badlands landscape that produces a spotlighted horseman in the closing act.
Road Trip Stop
Seven regionally inspired sculptures tower along the Enchanted Highway, a 30-mile stretch between Interstate-94 and Regent, off Exit 72 (40 miles east of Theodore Roosevelt National Park). Figures crafted from scrap metal, oil-well pipes and tanks include grasshoppers, people and fish; most stand over 40 feet tall.