Lone Bison Long X Cattle Trail -TRNP-North Unit
Lone Bison on the Trail -TRNP

Medora exudes a timeless charm steeped in western heritage. We were glad we made the stop on our return from the park to enjoy a bit of modern-day hospitality. We found we fell in love with the quaint shops, welcoming locals, and a palpable sense of history. Medora is more than just a stopover—it’s an experience in itself.

"The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel."
Teddy Roosevelt Quote

Getting to Medora North Dakota

By Air: The closest airport to Medora is Dickinson – Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport (DIK), about 35 miles away. From there, you can rent a car or take a taxi to Medora.

By Car: Medora is just off Interstate 94, making it easy to reach by car. From the east, take Exit 261 and follow the signs to Medora. From the west, take Exit 259 and follow the signs to Medora.

Looking out from the Painted Canyon Visitor Center, the picturesque badlands at sunrise, a man with binoculars looks for wildlife in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Overlook at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center TRNP

Theodore Roosevelth National Park: A Natural Masterpiece

Before we soaked in the Medora magic, we venture into the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Known for its rugged buttes and distinct wildlife, TRNP promised us an unforgettable outdoor experience.

We began our day with a quick stop at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center. The Painted Canyon Visitor Center is a great place to start your exploration of Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s South Unit. Open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week, from mid-March to mid-October. It is the prefect place to find information and maps for the park. A moderate 4.2-mile out-and-back trail into the canyon got us up close to the badlands’ buttes, bypassing the bison herds we met along the way. Just remember, the hike down is easy. The hike back out was not so much. Bring plenty of water and snacks, as there are no concessions at the visitor center. Dress in layers, as the weather can change rapidly in the Badlands.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Sign with people in front

TRNP Scenic Drive: The Painted Canyon Loop

Theodore Roosevelt bronze in Medora with people on both sides for a portrait

Discover the Magic of Medora: Things to See and Do

Medora Musical Stage Venue
Medora Musical Stage Venue

Don’t Miss: Harmony in the Badlands The Medora Musical

The Chateau de Mores is a historic home built by the Marquis de Mores in 1883 as a hunting lodge
The Chateau de Mores historic home

Discover the Chateau de Mores Historic Site: A Glimpse into the Past

Chateau de Mores Interpretive Center Entrance
Interpretive Center at Chateau De Mores State Historic Site
Chimney Park in Medore views of the old meet plant chimney and interpretive trail

Chimney Park a Lasting Legacy

Outside entrance North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

Riding into History: Exploring the Legacy of North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

Bronze Longhorns North Dakota Hall of Fame
 Medora, "Badlands Bronc Buster" bronze sculpture
 Medora park bronze bronco sculpture

Footstep of the Past: Self Guided Walking Tour of Medora

Medora Old Town Theater Building
Medora Old Town Theater Building

Stop #1-Old Town Theater

The Old Town Hall Theater is a beautiful theater that hosts a variety of shows, from historical dramas to musical performances. One of the best performances we watched tells the story of Theodore Roosevelt’s life and his time in the Badlands. The “Teddy Roosevelt Show” uses local performers to act out the roles in this 1914 original 220 seat theater building. Attending one of these performances helps to support the local community arts programs. Joe Weigand as Teddy Roosevelt was amazing!

Billings County Court House Museum Building

Stop #2-The Billings County Courthouse Museum

This little hidden gem pleasantly surprised us. They charge admission, but it’s not too expensive to get in. Billings County Courthouse is home to the museum. Originally built in the 1880s as two separate buildings, they were joined in the early 1990s. Much later, in 1913, a second floor was added. Listed on the National Registry of Historic places, It features exhibits documenting the history of Medora and Billings County. There is a wonderful collection of old Winchester rifles.

View of the outside of The Von Hoffman House
The Von Hoffman House

Stop #3-Von Hoffman House

St. Mary's Church in Medora
St. Mary’s Church in Medora

Stop #4-Medora Children’s Park

Chateau De Mores Interpretive Sign in Chimney Park
Chateau De Mores Interpretive Sign in Chimney Park

Stop #5-Harold Schafer Heritage Center

The Harold Schafer Visitor Center is a museum dedicated to Harold Schafer, a business owner who developed the “Mr. Bubble” and “Snowy Bleach” products. The multi-millionaire philanthropist we learned played a major role in the development of Medora. The Harold Schafer Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week. Best of all, admission is FREE.

St. Mary's Church in Medora
St. Mary’s Church in Medora

Stop #6-St. Mary’s Church

Wagon outside the J.A. Ferris Store

Stop #7-J.A. Ferris Store

Gnarled Juniper tree in North Dakota

Stop #8-De Mores Memorial Park

This small park was the last stop on our tour of the town. It is also home to a number of historical monuments, including a statue of Marquis de Mores, a replica of his log cabin, and a marker commemorating the site of his old cattle ranch. The one-mile trail is an easy walk. With rain on the horizon, we took a few minutes to sit on one of the park benches before the rain began. We had learned quite a bit of history of this charming gateway town on our tour.

North Dakota, Medora, Rough Riders Hotel, hotel site since 1885
North Dakota, Medora, Rough Riders Hotel, hotel site since 1885

Where to Eat When Exploring Medora

They built the historic Rough Riders Hotel in 1884. It is in the center of town and a popular location in the summer months. It is named after the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry regiment led by Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War. The hotel has original room accommodations that is in keeping with the olden times. However, it has all the modern amenities. Downstairs, we found Theodores’ dining room renowned for its elegant western atmosphere. The restaurant’s atmosphere, décor, and menu transport you back in time to the days of cowboys and cattlemen. TR’s Tavern features a large bar with a wide selection of beers, wines, and spirits. We ate our lunch in the upstairs portion of the restaurant to avoid the rain. Their signature Teddy’s Wagyu burger is a must-try for any fan of hearty, delicious food. The Walleye is also tasty.

Maltese Cross Cabin in autumn, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota.
Maltese Cross Cabin in autumn, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota.

If you visit the Medora Musical, you can partake of the Pitchfork Steak Fondue. This is a rather unique and flavorful dish that combines the rustic charm of a cowboy cookout with the indulgence of a classic fondue. This hearty meal features tender chunks of steak skewered on pitchforks and cooked over an open fire, then dipped in a rich and savory fondue sauce. Tickets are a bit pricey, but it is the experience that matters.

We found the accommodations in Medora were costly so we stayed in an Airbnb in Belfield. Having arrived from the Black Hills in South Dakota, we felt it was kind of midpoint between the South Unit and North Unit. Not to mention it was way cheaper.

A mule deer near the Medora Musical in a grass meadow

Final Thoughts Exploring Medora: Gateway to Beautiful Theodore Roosevelt National Park

I must say, we found Medora to be a charming town in the Badlands of North Dakota. For us it was a great place to base yourself when exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Medora offers a variety of attractions, including the Medora Musical, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site. Exploring this little town has something to offer everyone, so it is sure to create a memorable day trip.

Have you been to the Badlands of North Dakota? Did you visit Medora? What did you like (or not like) about it?