If you’re planning to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park, you’ll definitely want to stay in beautiful Medora! There are so many things to do in Medora that you’ll need more than just a few days to experience why it’s North Dakota’s #1 tourist destination! Lots of outdoor attractions, shows and family fun are all awaiting your arrival!
Medora is at the entrance of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit where the bison roam and wild horses run free!
But, Medora is also home to an acclaimed musical, a world-famous Golf Course and a Rodeo Hall of Fame! This small town that has a big heart is the perfect place to spend your next summer vacation away from the hustle bustle!
So, let’s see why North Dakota’s Rough Rider town of Medora is a popular family summer destination!
Cover Photo by @maxcat16
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Things to Do in Medora, North Dakota
Gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Where is Medora?
Medora is a small town located in the western part of North Dakota along the banks of the Little Missouri River just off of I-94. Much of the surrounding area is part of either Little Missouri National Grassland or Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit.
This cowboy show town is also just outside the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and it is approximately 135 miles west of the North Dakota’s state capital, Bismarck.
What is Medora known for?
Medora is a small town in North Dakota that’s known for everything geologic, historic and outdoorsy with a bit of yeehaw and showmanship mixed in! It’s also the town leading you into the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Medora was founded in 1883 along the transcontinental rail line of the Northern Pacific Railway by French nobleman Marquis de Mores, who named the city after his wife Medora von Hoffman.
Overall, Medora is known for its western heritage, unique cultural experiences and countless outdoor activities that leave visiting tourists yearning to return.
In the off season, Medora’s official population is about 140. However, once the summer season begins, the population more than quadruples. A drove of eager seasonal employees arrive to welcome visitors from all over the world!
Medora is the perfect place to spend a few days to even the whole summer at without getting bored. There are so many attractions and things to do in Medora that you and your family will want to make this western town a regular summer vacation destination!
So, here’s a roundup of things to do in Medora that will make you pin this location as you next summer bucket list destination!
Explore Theodore Roosevelt National Park
“It was here that the romance of my life began.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Medora gets bragging rights for being the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. That in itself is just one of the many reasons to visit the Rough Riding town.
Whether taking a hike or a scenic drive through the park, the stunning views of the Badlands and wildlife is one of the main reasons for coming here.
Named after former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, TRNP encompasses over 70,446 acres, but in two sections. The North Unit and the South Unit where Medora leads visitors into.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is known for its rugged layered landscapes, unforgiving yet amazingly beautiful badlands set in the middle of the grassy plains.
And lurking in the canyons or napping on the prairies, there’s an abundance of wildlife. If you’re quiet and patient, you may get closeup views of bison, elk, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. (Pssssst, right before sunset!!)
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt is one of the Best Places to See Bison in America? which is just one of the many reasons Why You Should Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park!
Take a self-guided walking tour of small town Medora. Many of its’ historic sites and attractions are easily done on foot. Explore the charming streets’ historic buildings, shops, and museums throughout the town.
Visit historic sites like the Von Hoffman House and St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Also, take a gander at the Harold Schafer Heritage Center museum that showcases the life and legacy of Harold Schafer as well as artifacts related to the history of Medora.
Chateau de Mores State Historic Site
3426 Chateau Rd, Medora
The Chateau de Mores State Historic Site is a museum that tells the story of the Marquis de Mores, a French nobleman who founded Medora. The site includes a restored 26-room 1880’s mansion, a carriage house, and a museum that showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the history of the town.
The Medora Musical
Burning Hills Amphitheatre – 3422 Chateau Rd, Medora
When you visit Medora, it’s a given that you just have to go to the popular Medora Musical!
This is a fun-filled, family-friendly theatrical roundup has been a tradition for over 50 years! It’s a true Western experience and perfect for all ages.
This popular outdoor musical runs all summer from June through September. It features a cast of performers, live music, and dancing. The production features a bit of country, rock, and patriotic medleys with high energy and horses with a big explosive fireworks finale!
The Teddy Roosevelt Show
Old Town Hall Theater – 275 Broadway
The Teddy Roosevelt Show is a popular attraction in Medora in the historic Old Town Hall Theater during the busy summer season. This one-man theatrical performance features a talented actor who portrays the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.
From rancher and cowboy of the Badlands in North Dakota to his political leadership and Spanish American War, the repriser shows how Roosevelt lived.
Through the actor’s incredible talent, he brings Roosevelt back to life personifying his every mannerism and iconic personality thorough his entertaining monologue of stories.
The show covers various aspects of Roosevelt’s life, including his time as a cowboy and rancher in the North Dakota Badlands, his experiences as a politician, and his leadership during the Spanish-American War.
Theodore & Edith: Conversation with the Roosevelts
Burning Hills Amphitheater – 3422 Chateau Road
Another summertime theatrical performance attraction in Medora, Theodore & Edith: Conversation with the Roosevelts show reenacts conversations between the former U.S. President and his wife.
Based on historical records and letters, the actor and actress bring to life captivating stories of Roosevelts’ lives; including his tenure as President of the United States.
The show takes place in the outdoor Burning Hills Amphitheatre, which is a beautiful setting that provides a unique and memorable experience.
Also, check out their afternoon tea where they tell more stories, play games and share their living history with visitors.
Medora Magic Show
Old Town Hall Theater – 275 Broadway
The Medora Magic Show is a popular family-oriented attraction in Medora for those who love the mystery of magic entertainment. You’ll definitely want to join in on this card-shuffling magician, Colin Zasadny.
He’s been perfecting his talent and craft for more than a decade. And tricks up his sleeve is an understatement and some, he may very well play on you!
The Medora Magic Show also features other performers and illusionists who incorporate humor and audience participation into their magic stunts.
Bully Pulpit Golf Course
3731 Bible Camp Road
Said to be one of America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses, the Bully Pulpit Golf Course is a beautiful 18-hole course located in the heart of the Badlands. It also ranks as one of the best courses in North Dakota.
Literally chiseled right out of the North Dakota Badlands, Bully Pulpit is like no other golf course in the world. Golfers can enjoy walking through the meadows and woodlands skirting along the scenic Little Missouri River.
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
250 Main Street
Who doesn’t love the cowboy way of rough riding bull riders and pretty rodeo queens?
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and museum celebrates the history and culture of North Dakota’s cowboys, ranchers and culture of the American West.
From saddles and spurs to cowboy hats and rodeo queen crowns, it’s dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of the cowboy way of life.
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and museum also hosts live demonstrations, educational programs, and special events throughout the year.
Horseback Riding in Medora
Speaking of cowboys and horses, Medora is the perfect place to go on a horseback riding adventure! Enjoy riding a horse through North Dakota’s Badlands. Experience the beauty of the region from a different perspective just like the pioneers and cowboys did centuries ago.
Hiking and Biking in Medora
As the many things to do in Medora, the town and area offer a great variety of outdoor activities. Whether you enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping, Medora has it all!
Of course, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the best popular hiking destinations. Its’ 100+ miles of hiking trails run throughout the park’s badlands, grasslands, and forests.
But, outside the park, the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail winds through the Badlands for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders.
It’s a challenging ride through rugged terrain. The trail is not for beginners. It requires a good level of fitness and strenuous mountain biking skills. But the stunning scenery makes it all worth the workout.
Though we weren’t ready for the challenge ourselves, those more experienced do say to bring plenty of water and supplies. There’s limited services along the trail.
Also, the trail may have closures due to seasonal weather conditions. It’s important to check ahead before planning your trip.
Another popular hiking trail, The Chateau Trail, is one that offers incredible views of the badlands and Little Missouri River.
Camping in Medora
There are several camping options located in the town of Medora, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and surrounding area.
Medora Campground – located on the west side of Medora. The campground offers plenty of shaded big rig RV and tent camping from May 12-October 1. It features modern amenities, including showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities.
Red Trail Campground – nestled below a butte on the southeast edge of historic Medora. It’s situated close to town which makes it perfect landing to park and walk. They also offer a dump station for a fee for outside campers.
Sully Creek State Park – located roughly 3 miles south of Medora along the Little Missouri River. It affords outdoor recreation from camping, hiking trails, fishing and more! The campground has tent and RV campsites; modern and primitive as well as group campsites. It also provides modern and primitive equestrian campsites with corral access.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park – There’s actually two campgrounds in the Park.
Cottonwood Campground lies in the South Unit; about 5 miles from Medora. The South Unit campground also features horse camping.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground Review
Juniper Campground is 5 miles from Hwy 85 in the park’s North Unit. All sites are FCFS and are open to tent camping and most can also be used by vehicles/RVs (no hookups). However, just an FYI, this campground is about 50 miles away from Medora.
There are several other camping options available in Medora or within a short drive.
Because Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park are busy in the summer, we highly recommend making your reservations months or even up to a year in advance.
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Conestoga Wagon Camping
Think back to when the pioneers crossed the Great Plains to settle in new lands. They had their own version of present day RVs; the Conestoga Wagon!
Today, visitors can actually camp in a Conestoga wagon at the Medora Campground. Wagon camping is a unique and memorable way to experience the Old West while dreaming of bison and wild horses.
The Conestoga wagons are replicas that pioneers and settlers traversed in the 1800s. But these have been converted into comfortable accommodations with modern comforts like electricity and air conditioning.
Shopping in Medora
Like any tourist town, Medora has a great selection of cutesy little shops and boutiques and man benches outside. Shopping remains as another one of those fun things to do in Medora!
And while there are no strip malls, shopping in Medora still offers several shopping options for visitors to choose from from a historic 1886 pharmacy, western theme clothing store, trading post, bookstores, boutiques and gift shops.
Places to Eat in Medora
One of the favorite things to do in Medora, North Dakota is finding fun places to eat! While there’s a limited number of restaurants in the town, the restaurant staffs seem to handle it well.
Based on our experience of visiting Medora, we suggest eating during less busy times such as after the lunch crowd, very early or late dinner and away from pre or post show times.
Treat yourself and family to fine dining with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. Theodore’s Dining Room at the Rough Riders Hotel & Dining.
Looking for a casual diner-style American fare restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Check out the Cowboy Cafe!
Enjoy a unique dining experience where guests can enjoy a steak dinner cooked on a pitchfork over an open flame and served with cowboy side favorites at Pitchfork Steak Fondue!
For a more casual family-friendly atmosphere serving pizza, burgers, and sandwiches, Badlands Pizza & Saloon is just the ticket. They even have outdoor seating for those with pups in tow.
Stop in on a hot day to grab a big ol’ ice cream cone, sundae or quick burger at Sheriff Bear’s Ice Cream! They have a shaded sitting area within earshot of listening to live music. If you’re lucky, you might even meet Sheriff Bear himself!
Another great ice cream stop is at the Fudge and Ice Cream Depot.
We enjoy the popular Boots Bar & Grill to grab a burger, sandwich and cold brew. They also offer live music on select evenings.
In addition to those restaurants in Medora, there are several other breakfast, lunch or dinner options to fill those hungry bellies.
Pitchfork Steak Fondue
3422 Chateau Rd, Medora, ND 58645
“Out amongst North Dakota’s sprawling Great Plains, pitchfork prongs puncture hunks of rib-eyes readied for flavor-bursting submersion in a fondue’s bubbling cauldron, an initial step in sating ravenous cowboy appetites.” – @peterguttman (Instagram)
Now, we listed above the Pitchfork Steak Fondue as one of the favorite restaurant venues. But let’s go a step further in sharing why it’s ranked as one of our favorite things to do in Medora!
In fact, it’s truly is a Medora tradition that you truly don’t want to miss.
It’s quite a unique dining experience that combines western-style meal with an incredible scenic view of the North Dakota Badlands.
The meal involves cooking your own steak on a giant pitchfork in hot oil over an open flame. Then, your meat is served with all the cowboy favorites; including baked potatoes, beans, and fresh salads.
Medora Gospel Brunch
250 3rd Ave, Medora, ND 58645
If you’re going to be visiting Medora on a Sunday, then by all means, you just have to attend the Medora Gospel Brunch!
Start with you favorite brunch eats. Then liven up the holy spirit in your soul and work off those extra calories with a moving gospel revue from past and present beautiful music featuring talented singers and musicians.
This spiritual and uplifting event takes place in the rustic setting of the Medora Community Center. What a fantastic way to start your day with good food, great hymnal music, and a positive message.
Kid Friendly Things to Do in Medora
Attractions, Shows and Where Kids Can Be KIDS!
We know that sometimes kids suck at being good little tourists. They really could care less about shopping, weird restaurants, narratives and singing shows.
While we were visiting the past two years, we did pay attention to the kid friendly things to do in Medora. Well, for one, so we could take our own grandson one day!
Medora Children’s Park
365 Main Street
Located on the east side of the town on Main Street, the Medora Children’s Park is the place where kids are allowed to be kids! It has a western theme with a false front town and a section that looks like an Old West fort.
The best thing is it’s free! It’s open from sunrise to sunset. So, let the kids do what kids do best! Let them play while you get some much-deserved rest watching them!
Medora Municipal Pool
3385 Pool Drive
If you and the kids need a break from the summer heat, grab your swimsuits and head to the Medora Municipal Pool for a refreshing swim.
The pool has a waterslide and diving board, and it’s a great place to cool off on a hot day. There’s also changing rooms and showers available for your convenience.
Medora Point to Point Park
Medora Point to Point Park has lots of things to do in Medora but this venue of attractions is for the young and young-at-heart tourists!
Lazy Lil Mo & Wade In Pool – Splash and play in the Lazy Lil Mo lazy river and wade-in pool while following the harrowing story of Theodore Roosevelt capturing the boat thieves in the Badlands.
Little Bully Pulpit Mini Golf – The perfect way for the family to pass the time in Medora! The front 9 holes feature many authentic North Dakota and Medora symbols. The back 9 are built into the Badlands.
Manitou Zipline – Buckle into this two-seat zipline, ride it up backward while taking in the view of Medora and the Badlands. Then shoot back down on the ride you’ll never forget!
Jump Pillow – where Mom and Dad can’t scold the kids for jumping on the bed! The bounce pad is a great way for families to enjoy some outdoor recreation while burn off some energy while visiting Medora.
Badlands Shooting Gallery – Let the kids step back in time to learn how to shoot like cowboys and outlaws at this family-friendly attraction in Medora.
Kid’s Entertainment – While the adults have their shows to enjoy in Medora, the kids up to age 150 can enjoy their own live shows too; the Legendary: A Campfire Tale and Wild and the Animal Band.
Pantratz Hiking Trail – For the best view of Medora, nothing beats the Point to Point Trails. It’s built directly into the wind-carved bluffs that overlook Medora. The trail offers outdoor lovers a chance to go, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt “over, under, through, but never around!”
Check out why Medora Point to Point Park is a favorite amongst the kid visitors!
Ruff Riders Dog Park – Your fur kids want to get in on the action too! There’s a free local dog park in Medora for your fury friends to romp and burn off some steam in the sand on Pool Drive.
Wrapping up why you should visit Medora
As you see, Medora surely ain’t a typical one horse town! While it may be a small, it makes up for it with so many family-friendly attractions to make it worth visiting!
And, these are just a handful of the many attractions and fun things to do in Medora that you’ll want to come back again and again! It’s the perfect place to get outdoors and enjoy Theodore Roosevelt National Park. And of course, take in a show (or 5) too!
For more information on Medora not found here, check out the Medora Chamber of Commerce and Medora Tourism.
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