When Teddy Roosevelt first toured the Dakota Badlands in 1883, he fell in love with what he called the “perfect freedom” of the West. And much of what drew the soon-to-be president to this wild, rugged landscape remains preserved today: endless prairies, otherworldly rock formations and the independent, friendly spirit of the locals. As the jumping-off point for exploring the Badlands and beyond, Medora combines modern amenities with the authentic Old West spirit of the frontier.
Just over 60 years after his first visit, Theodore Roosevelt National Park was named in honor of the president who, as a young man, fell in love with this unique landscape. (The site was given national park status in 1978.) The park encompasses 70,000 acres of colorful hills, rushing rivers and herds of the iconic buffalo that have drawn conservationists and artists alike for generations. For an excellent introduction into everything the park has to offer, try the 36-mile loop through the south unit that leaves from Medora. You’ll see the buttes and the Badlands, as well as get access to a dozen different trailheads for all levels of hiker.
Rolling and Roaming
Cyclists, too, will find plenty of open space to roam, but make sure to stick to the paved or dirt roads — off-road cycling isn’t allowed in the park. If riding on the famed Maah Daah Hey Trail, note that bicycles are not permitted on sections of the trail within the park but bypass routes are available. Horseback riding trips also are available on the ruggedly beautiful trail. Visit the Medora Riding Stables to saddle up.
For a rowdy, family-oriented romp through Medora’s past, watch the Medora Musical at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. The Broadway-style revue runs all summer and celebrates the region’s cowboy history.
After a long day exploring, there’s nothing better than Pitchfork Steak Fondue on the Tjaden Terrace overlooking the majestic Badlands. This Medora meal involves a steak delivered on a pitchfork.
For More Information
Medora Convention & Visitors Bureau
North Dakota Tourism Division