On the western edge of North Dakota, nestled in the hills of the Badlands, is a tiny town named Medora. Although it’s located just off Interstate 94, the town isn’t visible from the freeway. It’s a true hidden gem.
One of the best things to do in Medora, North Dakota is to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP), North Dakota’s only national park. Once you arrive in town, however, you’ll quickly realize there are many activities in the area.
This list highlights just a few of the things to do in Medora, ND.
1. THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK
One of the really special things about Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the lack of traffic and crowds. It’s rare to be stuck in a traffic jam unless a herd of bison is occupying the road. On the hiking trails you can go at your own pace and don’t have to worry about navigating your way through crowds of people.
If you’re looking for a peaceful day of things to do in Medora, North Dakota, exploring TRNP is for you. While this national park does not have towering mountains or pristine glacial lakes, it’s beautiful in a very down-to-earth way that many people find incredibly refreshing and inspiring.
The 36-mile loop scenic drive is a must-do in the South Unit of TRNP. Along the way you’ll have awesome views of the prairie, buttes and badlands. And there’s a good chance you’ll see some wildlife too.
You may see wild horses galloping or buffalo roaming across the prairie. It’s also not uncommon to come across some deer or elk. One of the often underrated wildlife watching experiences in TRNP is the prairie dog towns. The prairie dogs poke their heads out of their burrows and scurry around. They’re playful creatures so if you watch closely you might catch them interacting with each other in some pretty amusing ways.
TRNP has a few short hikes that are perfect to stop and do on your way through the park. Wind Canyon Trail and Coal Vein Trail are a couple favorites. The Wind Canyon Trail takes you to the top of a bluff that overlooks the Little Missouri River. The view is especially stunning at sunset when the sun casts a warm glow on the badlands and the river valley. The Coal Vein Trail hike is a fun opportunity to learn a little bit about the area’s history and geology, like how a coal vein fire impacted the landscape. Even if science and history aren’t your thing, you’ll likely still find the scenery along this trail pretty interesting.
2. MEDORA MUSICAL + PITCHFORK STEAK FONDUE
Nearly every night of the summer, the Medora Musical takes place at the beautiful Burning Hills Amphitheater in Medora. The amphitheater can seat nearly 3,000 people, but even at capacity it doesn’t feel crowded because of the wide open sky above and badlands as far as the eye can see. The show highlights some of North Dakota’s history and is great entertainment for people of all ages! Before taking in the Medora Musical, many visitors enjoy the Pitchfork Steak Fondue. If you don’t plan to do your own campfire cookout, definitely consider taking part in this unique outdoor dining experience. Chefs prepare steaks by placing them onto a pitchfork and dipping them in hot oil. The accompanying buffet includes baked potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables, baked beans, coleslaw and more. It’s the ultimate picnic complete with wonderful views!
North Dakota likely isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think about mountain biking, but the Maah Daah Hey trail offers terrain even experienced riders may find challenging. It’s 144 miles of rugged beauty with a wide variety of terrain that includes prairie, badlands, valleys and rivers.
For a milder biking experience, try the scenic loop of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Medora, ND has a history-rich background. Two prominent figures related to the history of the town are Theodore Roosevelt and the Marquis de Morés. Both spent time in the area in the late 1800s and left a lasting legacy. A couple places to visit in Medora to learn more about the history of the area include the Chateau de Mores Historic Site and the Maltese Cross Cabin.
Love the Dakotas? Check out the amazing small town of Hot Springs, South Dakota!
Have you ever been to Medora? Tell us about it in the comments!