Top 5 Things to Do in Medora: One of North Dakota’s Best Vacation Spots

Thanks to our partners at Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation for sponsoring this article! All opinions are our own.
Photo courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

If you haven’t been to Medora in Western North Dakota, you MUST put it on your bucket list! The beauty of the Badlands is a sight to behold and within it a hidden gem, the town of Medora.

Wind carved buttes with layers of colors, flowing tall prairie grasses mixed with wild flowers, and a feeling of going back in time to simpler days; there is truly no other place like it in the United States.

We are so lucky to have this sanctuary in our state. You absolutely must go enjoy it!

Having lived at the edge of the Badlands during my childhood, I’ve got the inside scoop on some of the best spots to see while visiting the western edge of North Dakota.

1. Go back in time in Medora. 

This quaint little town warps you back to a simpler time as you stroll wooden boardwalks and swing saloon doors all around town.

Spend a day moseying through Medora grabbing ice cream at the Fudge Depot, popping in to little shops, and letting your kids buy little shiny agates and pretend rattle snake tails. Even take an old-style photo dressed head to toe in Old West regalia from Todd’s Old Time Photo & Gifts.

medora
Photo courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

Don’t be fooled by the quiet old town appearance. Medora also boasts amazingly modern entertainment. The brand new Point to Point Park features a lazy river, splash pad, zip line, mini golf and more! This, along with multiple live entertainment options, allows wild west to meld with modern amenities.

2. Spend a magical evening at The Medora Musical

I’m sure you’ve seen the photos of line dancing, skirt twirling country music dancers that so notably marks the long-standing Medora Musical. And yes, you definitely will see those acts! But, be prepared to be surprised at the high-caliber performance and on-stage talent in singing, dancing, magic, comedy, acrobatics, and more.

medora
Photo courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

The Medora Musical is truly a show everyone will enjoy. When we took our young toddler, she sat mesmerized for the entire performance. Kids, teens, and adults of all ages will be entertained.

And, the best part? It’s all set outside in The Burning Hills Amphitheater carved out of the western hills under the open North Dakota starry sky.

Photo courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

3. Visit one of America’s top golf courses, Bully Pulpit

I’m not much of a golfer, but I’d get a tee time for the sole purpose of taking in the golf course views!

This course is one of the most beautiful in the state (and dare I say entire Midwest) and ranks as one of the Top 100 of America’s Greatest Public Gold Courses.

With holes fairways curving through the badlands and along the Little Missouri River, Bully Pulpit is a challenging course with a lot of uniqueness.

medora
Photo courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

So, if you are looking for something with more unique terrain than our flat Red River Valley courses, make sure to book a tee time on your trip.

4. Take a couples adventure on the Maah Daah Hey Trail

I spent three summers digging and maintaining this 144 mile trail through the Badlands, so believe me when I say, it is a true work of art.

If you love adventure and want to hike or mountain bike, the Maah Daah Hey Trail is one of the best. You can go just for a day hike or spend a week hiking the entire thing. 

My top recommendation is to take your significant other for an adventure weekend of hiking solitude and nights camping under the stars. Or grab an adventurous girlfriend or two and get some quality time on the trail.

things to do in medora
We love the Maah Daah Hey so much we sponsored a trail marker to help keep the trail funded and in great condition.

My Top 4 spots to hike to along the trail: 

  1. Devil’s Pass: A fun little ledge trail with some great views.
  2. Ice Caves: Hike right into the cave and feel the cold. If you go before late July, you may even see some actual ice still remaining. We used to stash cold food and chilled water bottles here for a treat after a hot afternoon hike.
  3. Sully Creek: This short trail right off the town of Medora will lead you to the best photo op in all of the Badlands. Take the trail south for this expansive view and north west is want to ford across the Little Missouri River.
  4. Bully Pulpit: Take the trail going south east for a hike of switchbacks over fun buttes and sandstone. It’s true badlands hiking trail experience.

    medora
    Photo courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation

Grab a photos of the best view on earth (in my opinion) 

The short Sully Creek Trail can be accessed at Sully Creek Campground just a miles south of Medora. Hike the Maah Daah Hey south up some winding switchbacks until you reach the top of a high butte. Follow the trail and you’ll know when you see it!

At the very edge of a sharp cliff you feel like you step into the vast blue North Dakota sky as you gaze at the wide, winding Little Missouri River and the most breathtaking back drop of canyon buttes. The contrasting colors of blue, green, and brown, the 180 degree panorama, and the height of your stance make this an absolutely mesmerizing, quintessential badlands experience.

things to do in medora

5. Enjoy an afternoon Point to Point Park for the kids (and kids at heart)

Brand new this year to Medora is Point to Point Park. It’s called Point to Point because Teddy Roosevelt had a favorite game – Point to Point Hikes! The only rule: whatever lied ahead you could never go around. You must go over, under, or through.

And you can do all of that at this perfect summer attraction!

Swing on zip lines, float the lazy river, take your best shot at mini golf, and hike family friendly trails.

Sounds like the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Want the FULL SCOOP on all things Medora vacation? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Medora and some ideas for three day vacation itineraries!

A few fun pitstops on the drive from Fargo:

The Jamestown Buffalo

You’ve likely passed this iconic cement giant on your drive on I-94, but have you ever stopped? You should! It is a quick pit stop that not only gives you an up close encounter with the massive buffalo sculpture, but also of real buffalo! Plus you get to tour a western mini town full of fun “old timey” exhibits including an old schoolhouse, jail, and post office. 

Dickinson Museum Center 

You will be surprised how incredible this dinosaur museum is for a small town like Dickinson. If you have a dino lover in your fam, they will be in awe. And even as a grown up, I learned so much and was truly impressed with the quality of exhibits (dinos and beyond!). Plus many of the dinosaur skeletons on display were found right here in the midwest!

Painted Canyon Visitor’s Center

Here you will get your first majestic view of the beautiful badlands. You can take a short hike, go inside the visitor’s center to see lots of artifacts like rattlesnake skins, arrow heads, and other fun geological spectacles your kids will love to learn about.

Take time to breath

When we think family vacation it’s easy to go east to the Twin Cities or Google destinations with affordable flights to get out of our flat Red River Valley, but we don’t forget we have a wild, unexplored gem right here in our state.

I encourage you to head west and embrace the rustic vacation. Pack picnics, meander, spend all your time outside, SLOW DOWN and look around, look up, and look across. Let your eyes see the curve of the earth and the shine of a million stars. Let your heart feel the vastness of plains, and let your kids be wild.

I guarantee it will be a vacation you will forever remember.

Found some bucket list ideas in this article? Jot them down in our Medora Itinerary Printable!

And for more Medora fun, make sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Medora to plan your vacation! 

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Michaela, along with her husband Jarrod, raise their three young children in Fargo. Michaela grew up on a farm in Western North Dakota, where she developed the strong value of a good day of hard work. So now she rarely sits still. You will find her leading a large network marketing team with Rodan + Fields and running her own training and events company, which developed the Limitless Conference for small business owners. She also loves public speaking and jumps at the chance to share her journey and teach others. You could say she has a passion for growing things... businesses, plants, and people, and feels most blessed to be able to run her businesses from home while growing her family. Michaela hopes to inspire other moms to build businesses and be proud of their personal and professional lives. So often we as moms find ourselves being wrapped in guilt... guilt of working instead of being home with our kids, guilt of being home with our kids and not working, or guilt of being stressed and frazzled trying to do both. But, she believes there is no such thing as balance and if we love our kids and love our careers, both will turn out just fine.

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