Getting a taste of the West in Medora, North Dakota

Cowboy statue in Medora

We were hoping for a western experience during our North Dakota trip and we got it – buffaloes, cowboys, Native Americans, a hot meal on the range. And some dancing entertainment. Our day in Medora didn’t disappoint.

We started our visit with a drive through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park is named after the 26th US president, who lived in the state for a time. The park is home to the North Dakota Badlands. The area is beautiful! You can look out for miles and see beautiful hills, buttes and wild grassland. The drive through about 30 miles of the South Unit provided exceptional views.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

As you enter the park, stop at the visitors center. A small cabin once used by Roosevelt is available for tours. It was originally located about seven miles south of Medora, before being relocated to the national park.

Cabin once owned by Teddy Roosevelt

You’ll see various styles of rock formations. You can definitely see the marks of evolution as you view the beauty.

We loved the beauty of the Badlands

If you’re lucky, you can see some of the wild horses and bison that call Roosevelt National Park home. While we didn’t see any of the wild horses (much to my sadness), we did see a large herd of bison along the way.

Wild bison at Roosevelt National Park

They were grazing on the side of the road. It was a special feeling to see them that close to our car. You don’t get out and among them, if you value your safety. You’d think that would be common sense, but yet 3-4 people have been injured at national parks doing just that for selfies.

We’ve seen bison at wildlife parks (like the one at home), but this seemed different. They roam the park’s grounds, so they basically have free rein of the land, as if they were wild animals. Huh? Go figure.

Loved the bison

We encountered several crossing the road. Four of them started walking our direction while on the pavement. We sat patiently, probably because we loved the view. But, as soon as there was a slight opening in a lane, a car passed us and pretty much pushed their way around the bison.

We also took in some views of a few prairie dog villages. It’s amazing how many of those critters there are in a place like Roosevelt.

Prairie dogs are among our favorite wild animals

Following our wonderful drive through the national park, we thought we should check out Medora. It’s a small town, of about 150 permanent residents. The population explodes during the summer months with the temporary help and visitors in town.

Shopping in Medora

The main street is only a couple of blocks long, but it’s packed with shops and restaurants. We enjoyed looking for souvenirs in the various shops.

Once we decided it was snack time, we stopped at the fudge shop. They actually serve fudge and ice cream. We opted for a couple of “small” servings of ice cream. Man, their version of small was enough for the two of us to split. However, I wanted a cone of butter brickle and Lisa opted for a bowl of mint. We couldn’t agree on a flavor.

After our snack, we continued our trek. This time, we ended up at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. The building offers four galleries for visitors – Native American history, pioneer history, rodeo and a Hall of Honorees.

State Cowboy Hall of Fame

Each gallery is well done and very respectful of its subject. I liked the rodeo section, which focused primarily on the “North Dakota Six Pack,” the best rodeo cowpokes to come out of the state. The rodeo gallery featured photos, awards and equipment featuring the cowboys.

A world champ’s saddle

The Native American section covered the history of regional tribes and the role some Natives played in rodeo.

An early Native American saddle

The Hall of Honorees had photos of the annual inductees, including author Louis L’Amour. The Jamestown native was inducted in the arts and entertainment category for his western-based novels.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Pitchfork Fondue. The steaks are cooked in bulk on actual pitchforks. The cooks dunk them in boiling oil. They are cooked medium and have a unique taste. The steaks come with a buffet featuring coleslaw, fruit, veggies and baked beans. As Cookie on “City Slickers” would say, “The food’s hot, brown and lots of it!” He was right.

Steaks on pitchforks ready to be “foundued”

Dinner came with a view of the North Dakota Badlands. It would be a tough to top view.

After dinner, we moseyed on over to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre for a presentation of “Medora Musical.” The show pays tribute to the history of Medora and North Dakota through a variety show, featuring comedy, song and dance.

A performance during the “Medora Musical”

We had a wonderful time during our day in Medora, but we were definitely worn out. We stayed at the Badlands Motel. The motel has the Badlands as a backdrop. It was difficult to beat.

The Badlands Motel has a great backdrop

Our room was excellent. The bed was nice and comfy. I loved the work space, I uploaded all the photos of the day to the laptop and external drive. The room also had ample outlets for all the devices. I was really happy to see that. The internet worked well, too.

Our room was outstanding

The motel is located in a  good spot. It’s on the edge of town, you have easy access. It’s located near attractions, with the town locations a short walk or drive away.

The next morning, as I was loading the car, a man whose room was next to ours happened to be outside when I was. He looked up and saw a wild horse at the top of the bluff behind us. It was majestic, seeing its silhouette. I tried to get some photos, but it was too far away and too dark out. Then, I saw a couple more, so he and I stood there taking in the impressive views.

I told Lisa afterward that I thought the horses felt bad we didn’t get to see them the day before, so they tossed us a bone. LOL.

We loved our time in Medora. We discussed possibly returning for a few more days. There would be plenty to keep us busy with the national park alone. Plus, they change the musical annually, so it would be new to us. The show schedule is completed, but they should operate June-September next year.

We recommend visiting Medora. It’s a small town with a lot of attractions and fun.

For more information on Medora and its attractions and accommodations, please visit:

Disclaimer: Thank you to the North Dakota Tourism Division for coordinating our trip. Thank you to Badlands Motel, Pitchfork Fondue and Burning Hills Amphitheatre for the complimentary tickets and accommodations. However, all opinions and views are ours.