Reliably, there will always be something to see in Dickinson, North Dakota. Like the Badlands: 110 desolate square miles of layered rock formations rising around the Interstate 94, dusty canyons and patches of grass, eagles circling the unobstructed blue skies above. Even nicer in the winter, if you can stand it, when it’s just miles and miles of silvery mounds reaching out into the abstract horizon. Dickinson also has plenty of small-town charm, with a western flare and dedication to historical preservation. Visitors can learn about the dinosaurs that trampled through the area 65 million years ago; wander the historical sites and museums that commemorate celebrate the textured history of Native Americans, early ranchers, settlers and more.
Medora, on the other hand, is a small town just a 30-minute drive west of Dickinson that’s smack-dab in the middle of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Dakota Badlands. Medora only has 131 residents, but it has a ton of the area’s tourist attractions, like the Medora Musical and the Bully Pulpit Golf Course.
Find out with Theodore Roosevelt spent so much time in North Dakota at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Two significant visits made by Theodore Roosevelt to these badlands helped establish the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and of nature conservancy in America in general: the first in September 1883 when he brought home a bison and invested $14000 in the Maltese Cross Ranch. A year later, following the tragic death of both his mother and wife, he retreated to his newly-acquired Elkhorn Ranch. This place is remote, and desolate – humps of layered canyons sparsely topped by dry foliage. It’s beautiful, too, and replete with Great Plains wildlife like bison, feral horses, elk, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer. Birdwatchers will also love it, as they can see golden eagles and sharp-tailed grouse circle the blue skies. Visitors will also want to stop by Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin, which is right by the visitor’s center and is furnished with original period pieces.
What the travel blogs have to say:
Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota
Tina – May 9, 2013
This very detailed review of the national park includes tons of photos of the badlands and some of the wildlife.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park ND
Bob and Denise – August 8, 2013
A couple of bloggers share their photos of the rolling badlands.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
June 10, 2013
A hiker recounts her day at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, including some nature tips from Gary.
Check out some more Badlands attractions in the Dakotas:
Dakota Prairie National Grasslands
Go where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play.
Theodore Roosevelt Center
FInd out about the fascinating life of Theodore Roosevelt at Dickinson State University.
Badlands National Park
Explore the 244,00 acres of mixed-grass prairie and the rising geologic deposits of the South Dakota Badlands.
The Dakota Dinosaur Museum and 65 million years of history
An almost inconceivable amount of time ago the North Plains, including North Dakota, were the stomping grounds of dinosaurs. Big ones. And there’s no better place to learn about these massive creatures than at the Dakota Dinosaur Museum, where visitors can see the largest intact triceratops skull in the world, weighing in at 1,500 pounds, and a 65-million-year-old complete T-rex hind leg. The museum also provides some kind of supplementary historical context with information on how archeologists and paleontologists dig up these prehistoric bones.
What the travel blogs have to say:
Dinosaurs on the Bakken
Stephanie Becken – September 6, 2012
This mom suggests a stop at this museum and perusing the rocks and dinos.
Chicago Trip – Day 5, 6 , 7
Emily – June 18, 2009
One of the highlights of this trip for the kids is the Dakota Dinosaur Museum.
2011 July North Dakota
Candy Kane-Badger – July 11, 2011
A passerby recounts all of the things she knows about North Dakota and stops at the dinosaur museum so she can know more things about North Dakota.
See some more cultural attractions in and around Dickinson:
Dickinson Museum Center
Learn about North Dakota and Dickinson at the Museum Center’s network of buildings.
Ukrainian Cultural Institute
Since 1980, the Ukrainian Cultural Institute has been preserving, promoting and displaying art and artifacts of Ukrainian culture.
This gorgeous abbey from the late 1800s hosts overnight retreats and tours. The wine cellar is a visitor favorite.
The Frontier has never been more festive than at the Medora Musical
Get a big ole’ slice of Americana at the Medora Musical, a rollicking country-western revue honoring the story of Theodore Roosevelt in North Dakota. Permanently stationed in Medora in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park with a natural backdrop of endless rolling badlands, this campy but delightful show features singers, dancers, a live on-stage band and live horses. Outside, grab the bull by the horns and an oil-soaked steak by the pitchfork (adequately called Pitchfork Steak Fondue). The Medora Musical runs nightly and has been a local family treasure since 1965.
What the travel blogs have to say:
What’s the Medora Musical All About?
Elizabeth Kate – August 30, 2011
A teacher recounts an adorable moment in her classroom when a student shares her experience at the Medora Musical, learning about “Teddy Bear Roosevelt.”
Laz – July, 2011
A visitor ends her stay in North Dakota in the best way possible – at the Medora Musical.
John and Diana Schramm – August 28, 2010
A couple attend the Medora Musical and are captivated by the backdrop of the Badlands.
See some more Western-themed attractions in Medora:
Cowboy Hall of Fame
Learn about North Dakota’s colorful Western heritage at the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Chateau de Mores
The original 26-room frame building that was the summer residence of the family that established Medora in 1883 now stands as a house museum.
Gorge out on steak and seafood at the Brickhouse Grille
This big brick building on the corner of Willard St. and Sims St. in the heart of downtown Dickinson was built in 1915 and now stands as a warm, sophisticated seafood and steak place. The food is fresh and seasonal (fans of fish should try the ahi tuna), and the wine list is extensive, which makes for a fairly ideal date or girls’ night (they also serve special martinis).
See some more restaurants in Dickinson for great eats:
El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant
This local Mexican joint offers vegetarian options as well as a full bar.
This modern, cozy and coffee-centric cafe has expert espresso drinks and an array of sandwiches, soups and sweets.
This humble but flavorful thai shop has the whole town lining up at its door for its massive green curries and pad thai.
Golf on the Badlands at Bully Pulpit Golf Course
One of the most unique golf course locations in the United States, Bully Pulpit is situated over meadows, woodlands, and badlands threaded along the Little Missouri River. The views from their 7,166 yards are gorgeous from any angle, from the grassy canyons to the winding river. Ranked one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses, golfers visiting the area don’t want to miss this one.
A few more attractions in the Medora and Dickinson area:
Heart River Golf Course
They heart rivers at the Heart River Golf Course, situated right along the scenic Heart River also overlooking Patterson Lake.
The Enchanted Highway
This unique 32 mile slice of highway features some of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures.
Old Red Trail
Follow this scenic byway past dozens of recreational sites that offer tons of opportunities to camp, fish, bird and check out antiques.
Stay a while in Medora’s Western-themed Rough Riders Hotel
The Rough Riders Hotel is a historic, Western-themed hotel in the middle of downtown Medora. The hotel has been newly renovated, so it’s not nearly as rough as it sounds, and offers 68 modern guest rooms and 8 historic-style guest rooms. When visitor aren’t out exploring the wilds of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, they can kick back at the hotel’s Theodore’s Dining Room or TR’s Tavern.