Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Medora, ND

  • Published 2022/11/19

North Dakota is known throughout the United States because of Theodore Roosevelt’s fascination with its untamed wilderness.

Although Roosevelt spent most of his time in North Dakota was hunting bison, this upper Midwest region in the U.S. is already popular because of the Badlands, which is now part of a national park named after him.

If you want to explore the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the magical landscape of the Badlands, you should head to Medora.

This small city in Billings County, North Dakota, is widely known as the best jumping point to explore the national park and the Badlands.

In addition, this small city has a rich and deep history, which is an added excitement to your adventure there.

Historically, Medora was established in 1883 by French nobleman Antoine de Vallombrosa or Marquis de Mores along the Northern Pacific Railway’s transcontinental rail line.

Roosevelt’s name became embedded in Medora’s history after his 1903 visit there, but in the late 1800s, Roosevelt already established numerous ranches in the region.

From a traveler’s perspective, Medora is an outdoor enthusiast’s haven mainly because of the adventure awaiting them in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Badlands.

However, before you even decide to head out to these famous natural attractions, take time to get acquainted with the city and learn its rich history and unassuming charm.

To give you a broader idea of what awaits you there, here are the 20 best things to do in Medora, ND:

Wander through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Sunset at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

ZakZeinert /

If you want to see the real beauty of the Badlands, you should enter the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The Park was named after Theodore Roosevelt after his passing through President Truman in 1947.

Today, it’s one of the most popular national parks in the U.S. because of its vast, stunning landscape that is abundant in wildlife and exotic plant species.

Buffalo at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

ZakZeinert /

More than 600,000 visitors wander through this national park each year, and most of them enter or exit through Medora.

This 70,000-acre national park has three districts, teeming with free-roaming herds of wild bison, thousands of prairie dogs, and other animals.

It’s also home to more than 500 plant species that only thrives in the Badlands.

View from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park's badlands

ZakZeinert /

Moreover, this national park is also home to the third most extensive concentration of petrified wood in the world since it was once a swampy forest in the prehistoric era.

Also, there are unique rock formations found inside the national park, such as the odd cannonball rocks.

There are different ways for visitors to wander around the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but the most convenient is driving its scenic loop for a quick tour while those who want adventure can hike and camp inside.

Rock formation at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Laurens Hoddenbagh /

Tee Up at the Bully Pulpit Golf Course and Mini-Golf Course

The Bully Pulpit Golf Course’s rolling hills and stunning scenery of the Badlands are a few reasons why it was included in America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses.

With that in mind, you should visit this place and enjoy a morning or afternoon of golf with your loved ones.

Visiting this place lets you and your loved ones enjoy a scenic and fun-filled golf experience either at its standard 18-hole, par-72-course or at its mini-golf course.

Many golfers in the Midwest pay a visit to this golf course to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Badlands as they meander through its scenic woodlands and meadows along the Little Missouri River.

Of course, kids can have fun at its mini-golf course that features 18-holes with a colorful North Dakota-themed design.

Overall, the Bully Pulpit Golf Course and Mini-Golf Course are excellent attractions in Medora to take a break from exploring the outdoors.

Explore the Sully Creek State Park

The Sully Creek State Park is located roughly three miles south of Medora’s main city.

It’s one of the most accessible state parks in the area, being seven minutes away from Medora’s downtown and the entrance of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

However, there’s more to Sully Creek State Park than meets the eye.

It boasts one of the most tranquil environments than most of the area’s natural attractions, making it a perfect place to escape stress and anxiety.

The Sully Creek State Park is popular for its outdoor activities such as hiking, while visitors can also enjoy kayaking and canoeing along the Little Missouri River.

The park has numerous trails, each with distinct technicalities, but boasts stunning sceneries featuring the unique painted landscape of the Badlands.

In addition, Sully Creek State Park is also a popular place to do horseback riding, which adds more adventure and fun for visitors like you.

Take a Look Inside the Maltese Cross Cabin

Exterior and fence of Maltese Cross Cabin

Randy Runtsch /

The Maltese Cross Cabin was personally constructed by Roosevelt before he became the 26th President of the United States.

The cabin was constructed at the back of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s Interpretive Center.

This cabin served as his residence while exploring and hunting in North Dakota’s Badlands.

Exterior of Maltese Cross Cabin

Nagel Photography /

Visiting this cabin is one of the most recommended things to do in Medora to get a glimpse of how Roosevelt went with his life while he was in the city.

This quaint cabin has a simple ponderosa pine design with wooden floors and walls.

It has a tiny living room along with a bedroom and a kitchen.

Numerous items belonging to Roosevelt are still found inside the cabin.

So, for another historical attraction in Medora that’s worth the visit, head to the Maltese Cross Cabin.

Attend the Mouthwatering Pitchfork Steak Fondue

From June to September, Medora hosts a delectable celebration that gathers locals and tourists alike to share the famous Pitchfork Steak Fondue.

There is no better way to experience authentic American West culture but the dinner table, which is why this delicious gathering is a must-attend event.

It mainly features the Pitchfork Steak Fondue, a delicious and unique dish in the Midwest, particularly in Medora, that is cooked and served by local chefs in cowboy attire.

The dish is regularly served from September to June at a restaurant adjacent to the Medora Musical Theater.

This dish has been featured many times on Food Network, where Medora’s chefs are seen preparing and cooking the dish in Western-style and pair it up with classic fixin’s.

Drop by the Medora Visitor Center

The Medora Visitor Center is situated in between the city and the entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Upon arriving at Medora, visiting this spot is the most recommended thing to do before you head out.,

The Medora Visitor Center offers tourists like you all you want to know about the city and its adjacent parks, natural attractions, and activities.

In addition, they provide the hiking permits and other outdoor activities you want to engage while you’re in the city.

Furthermore, its on-site staff offers educational tours in its exhibits while offering guided tours around its natural attractions.

Overall, the Medora Visitor Center is a nice place to get acquainted and become more familiar of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

Hike or Bike through the Maah Daah Hey Trail

View of Maah Daah Hey Trail

drewthehobbit /

The Maah Daah Hey Trail may have a peculiar name, but it’s one of the best places you should visit while you’re in Medora.

This trail is situated five miles south of Medora; it beckons a 150-mile trail that takes you to the most scenic areas of the Badlands, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the Little Missouri National Grasslands.

In addition, one of the trails passes through Medora, giving you a different view of the city’s beauty.

Scenic view at Maah Daah Hey Trail

drewthehobbit /

Hiking and biking are the two most popular outdoor activities you can enjoy while traversing the Maah Daah Hey Trail.

Traversing its trails offers visitors an amazing and unforgettable experience regardless of how they choose to enjoy it.

Lastly, there are numerous campgrounds throughout the trails, which is a nice option if you want to spend the night outdoors.

Landscapes of Maah Daah Hey Trail

Bogdan Denysyuk /

Party during the Medora Musical

Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, the Medora Musical is a must-experience festival in the city.

It is considered one of the grandest musical shows in the Midwest as it features the ode to patriotism, the Great American West, and Roosevelt himself.

The entire musical highlights numerous entertaining live musical performances from various artists in the U.S.

Thousands of people from around the Midwest travel to Medora to witness this musical festival at the Burning Hills Amphitheater.

The musical is full of singing, dancing, story-telling, and rich North Dakota history.

You’ll surely sing and dance along with the performers.

So, when you’re planning to visit Medora, make sure to book it during the summer months to catch one of the performances in the Medora Musical.

Visit the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site

The Chateau de Mores State Historic Site is situated along Chateau Road in Medora.

It is a historical site that commemorates the life of Antoine de Vallombrosa of North Dakota.

Vallombrosa was named as the Marquis de Mores in the 1800s which is a prominent French title.

Medora, before it became a hot tourist spot in the U.S. was known in the cattle and livestock industry in the Midwest mainly because of Vallombrosa.

Today, Vallombrosa’s Chateau still stood firm as a historical site featuring its two-story, 26-room features built back in 1883.

Fascinatingly, the chateau still houses the original furnishings and the personal belongings of its true owners, making it a must-visit place for history buffs.

Learn the Badlands’ History at the Harold Schafer Heritage Center

The Harold Schafer Heritage Center is an important historical site in Medora that is worthy of your time visiting.

This museum in Medora was named after North Dakota’s proud son, Harold Schafer who was a known philanthropist and businessman in his time.

Schafer became known in North Dakota through his prominent businesses which most went back into his community.

To honor his charitable deeds in North Dakota, a museum was constructed along Medora’s 4th Street.

In the museum, you can browse through various exhibits from Schafer’s biography to some of Medora’s backstory.

In addition, the heritage center also serves as a small events center that can host various affairs through its function rooms and board rooms.

Moreover, it has a patio and bar where you and your loved ones can relax after browsing through the museum’s exhibits.

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Chimney Park Picnic Area

Tower at Chimney Park Picnic Area

northallertonman /

If you’re looking for a relaxing but enjoyable picnic with your friends or loved ones in Medora, head to the Chimney Park Picnic Area along River Road.

Aside from being the biggest park in Medora, it also holds historical value to the city.

It was once the meatpacking plant of Marquis de Mores back in the day, but was gutted in fire in 1907 and was never rebuilt since then.

Today, only the towering chimney of the meatpacking plant remains, while its surrounding is filled with green grass and vast open space that makes a nice place to have a picnic.

From a distance, you’ll have a gorgeous view of the painted mountains of the Badlands.

Enjoy the Medora Gospel Brunch

The Medora Gospel Brunch happening every June is a smash-hit for locals and visitors because of its wonderful gospel concert and its scrumptious brunch for everyone attending it.

Even if you’re not religious, you will surely get excited to attend this event in Medora because of the great music that’s going on for years in this city.

In addition, its brunch serves all your favorite breakfast and lunch dishes served before the concert.

After finishing your delicious brunch, you’re treated to a highly entertaining and meaningful musical gospel celebration featuring renowned hosts Emily Walter and Bill Sorensen.

Overall attending this yearly event in Medora is highly entertaining and offers enlightenment, especially those who believe the gospel.

Shop for Exciting Souvenirs at the Rough Riders Gift Shop

The Rough Riders Gift Shop along Third Avenue in Medora offers the best local products.

Get to choose from clothing, custom glasswork, and handicrafts from locals along with an eclectic selection of branded products.

Considered as Medora’s trendiest store, the Rough Riders Gift Shop is the best place to shop for souvenirs to bring home with you.

The shop is filled with great finds, from rare collections, mainstream brands to local products that are just all tempting to buy.

In addition, the shop has a laser engraver that can personalize the items you buy from them.

If you have time for some souvenir shopping, head to the Rough Riders Gift Shop, for sure, you’ll find something great to bring back home.

Traverse the Pancratz Trail

The Pancratz Trail is one of the many trails you can find in Medora, but this one offers you an eagle’s eye view of the entire city.

The trail spans 1.5 miles and will take you to a 728-feet elevation gain and pass through numerous attractions in Medora.

The trek you’ll be navigating has an easy to moderate trail because of the elevation, but the entire hike is worth it because of the sceneries.

In addition, there are hiking tours offered to traverse the Pancratz Trail for a more convenient experience.

Bring Your Kids to Medora Children’s Park

The Medora Children’s Park on Main St. is known for its Old West theme that is a perfect place to bring kids after exploring the great outdoors.

The play area offers kids a unique experience because of its false front town reminiscent of an Old West town, giving them that cowboy vibes while playing.

In addition, the kids will enjoy its classic Western-looking equipment such as a train engine and stagecoach replicas.

Ultimately, the Medora Children’s Park has free admission, making it a nice place to bring your kids and let them have fun while you get some rest.

Drop by and Take a Look at the Displays in the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

In 1995, the renowned North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame was established.

A theater, galleries, informative sections, relics, and souvenirs dedicated to the preservation of culture and tradition are all included on the site.

Discover the lives of international rodeo cowboys, landowners, farmers, and Native Americans in North Dakota.

The Institute of Western Heritage & Cultures inside the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame serves as an informational hub for the heritage of the northern plains and the western way of living in North Dakota.

The Hall of Honorees, which honors the people, objects, occasions, and cattle that made outstanding advances to North Dakota’s culture and way of life, serves as the highlight of the Center of Western Heritage and Cultures.

Pay a Visit to Billings County Courthouse

Added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Billings County Courthouse in Medora, North Dakota, is managed by the Billings County Historical Society.

According to legend, the courthouse represents the fair justice system within one of North Dakota’s least populous counties.

The building’s base was fashioned from a structure that is thought to have been constructed in the 1880s, providing a further visible connection to the area’s early years of habitation.

Barbwire, fencing, agricultural and mechanical supplies, rifles and weaponry, military antiques, horseback riding, Western goods, and exhibitions of ethnic objects from early settlers in the region are among the displays.

Along with the rebuilt courthouse and jail, viewers may also see a historical bunkhouse, basic store, and kitchen area.

Browse Items for Sale at the Buffalo Gap Gift Shop

Chuck & Sherry Andrus, residents of North Dakota, have long admired the splendor of the North Dakota Badlands.

In September 2009, they acquired The Buffalo Gap Gift Shop and Lake Country Stitches, and since then, they have worked hard to transform the company into a successful and energetic store.

They simplified the name to The Buffalo Gap Gift Shop and increased the variety of garden supplies in the store’s stock.

Look through various things, such as apparel, food, cuddly toys, and giftware.

The store is a Pride of Dakota merchant, selling Pride of Dakota goods made by skilled artisans around North Dakota and personal embroidered clothes and hats.

Experience Something New and Unique at Perception

Perception is a visual illusion journey for all ages that Bill Sorensen and Don Zasadny created for you in 2019.

The trip is divided into two halves, each lasting 15 to 20 minutes.

The tour’s opening segment is jam-packed with mind-blowing optical illusions and unrivaled picture possibilities.

While the tilted home, the second section, is a tangible illusion that will astonish you with how strong the human mind is.

You may have just discovered the ideal location to experience and visit if you’re seeking something unusual to try and revel in with friends and family.

Grab a Bite at Little Missouri Saloon

Exterior of Little Missouri Saloon

Logan Bush /

Little Missouri Saloon has a rich tradition of excellent friends, delectable cuisine, and slinging beverages.

It was originally built as a spot for cowboys to hang their top hats.

It is among Medora’s oldest saloons and steakhouses, with a huge menu that includes sandwiches, steaks, burgers, and freshly cooked pizza.

This comprehensive establishment has deck seating outside and a wide selection of specialty brews.

This genuine cowboy saloon will transport you back to the Wild West with its gun-handled doors and scarlet-colored décor.

Come by any day of the week between 11:00 am and 1:00 am.

Final Thoughts

Medora is an amazing destination for a little escape or for an outdoor adventure.

This small city is surrounded by gorgeous and unspoiled natural beauty, while its vibrant culture and history offer visitors a different perspective and excitement.

Medora is a place filled with a limitless array of exciting activities for the entire family.

So, which of these in Medora, you’ll be heading to first?

Make sure to bookmark this page for your reference!

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