The Wild West. The Badlands. Dinosaurs. National Parks. Entertaining musicals. Outdoor adventures. History lessons brought to life. Great family fun. All describe what awaits travelers to western North Dakota, and the tiny town of Medora.
Medora has all the makings of a wonderful family vacation. Or as was the case for us, a multi-day stopover destination on a summer family road trip through western United States.
So what’s there to do in tiny Medora? More than you think! Here are 6 family friendly activities sure to keep your family on-the-go in Medora, North Dakota.
Explore Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park may be one of the least visited national parks, but it is stunning in it’s own right, and alone is worth the drive to Medora. The park is divided into three separate geographic regions – The North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. Most popular is the South Unit, but even here, the crowds are sparse.
Plan a minimum of two days to explore this national treasure dedicated to a most extraordinary United States president. One day just isn’t enough time to get to know this vastly large park. Begin at the South Unit’s Scenic Loop Drive, where you will be greeted with stunning views of the surrounding Badlands.
For a different perspective, park the car and take a hike. The scenery is even more spectacular out along the trails. Keep a keen eye open for local wildlife, like this horned toad, and this quite large grasshopper. No son, you cannot adopt Mr. Toad as your new-found pet!
Spend a second day getting to better know this gem of a park with a drive through the North Unit. Then you will truly appreciate why Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a must-see national park destination. Plan your own adventure at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Dig for Dinosaur Fossils in The Badlands
Join certified paleontologists on an exciting adventure into the former stomping grounds of prehistoric giants, where you can dig for remnants of prehistoric life here over 60 million years old. The kids will love a day digging in the dirt in search of fossilized treasure, and you’ll love the excitement on their faces when they find something.
Millions of years have transformed this once swampy land into the rugged Badlands they are today, leaving behind a legacy of prehistoric life buried beneath the surface. Are you ready to find evidence of that prehistoric life?
Why take the kids on a fossil hunt? Because it’s educational. And because it’s just plain fun! Learn more about our fossil dig adventure at Digging for Dinosaurs in Medora North Dakota – You Next Family Adventure?
Time Travel Along The Historical Custer Trail
Take a hike along the very same trails that Custer’s 7th Cavalry also once lumbered along. Traveling through the North Dakota Badlands before cars, before highways, presented challenges we can only imagine in today’s world. These lands, without obvious roads nor trails, would have presented quite a challenge for a large military expedition such as Custer’s.
There are several trails to consider. Our adventures lead us along historic wagon trails to Initial Rock, where Custer’s army once made camp for the night while enroute to the Battle of Little Big Horn. It was May 28th, 1876, just one month before that infamous battle, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, occurred.
Imagine Custer’s ponderous 7th Cavalry division making it’s way slowly through this rough terrain. If you look closely, depending on where you stand, you might even see wagon ruts left behind as the expedition cut a path through here.
Check out the sandstone boulder at Initial Rock, where two enlisted men from the 7th Calvary carved their initials during that May night spend here. Ponder what their life as privates in Custer’s army must have been like during this exhausting march across the Badlands. Did they survive the Battle of Little Big Horn?
Learn more about Custer’s Trail through North Dakota.
Enjoy A Family Geocache For Treasure
Experience the North Dakota Badlands from a different perspective – go Geocaching! With lots of trails to choose from, and lots of well-placed geocaches, there is plenty of treasure hunting action to be had in the Medora area.
There’s an adventurous find along every trail, even if it’s not a treasure box! Perhaps you’ll find a treasure box filled with a fun cache to trade with, or maybe today’s real treasure is a box turtle meandering along the trail.
Have no fears! No box turtle was harmed here. Quite the opposite. We encountered this little guy as he was attempting to cross the road. We simply provided an extra lift to ensure it made it to the other side safe and sound.
Treasure found! Our geocaching adventures took us along a stretch of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, south of Medora. Geocaching along this trail, or any Badlands trail is sure to keep the kids moving! Learn more about Geocaching at Geocaching – Your Next Summer Adventure?
Have Fun at The Dakota Dinosaur Museum
Kids and dinosaurs. It’s a match sure to send imaginations soaring, and that’s exactly what will happen when exploring the Dakota Dinosuar Museum. Though relatively small, this compact museum delivers a fun experience for the dinosaur aficionado in your family.
Located in Dickinson, North Dakota, the Dinosaur Museum isn’t really “in” Medora, but it’s close enough. And if you have a family member wild for dinosaurs, then the Dakota Dinosaur Museum is worth a stop on your way to, or from, Medora.
Waiting to greet museum visitors is an awesome, life-sized replica of a triceratops. Go on, you can touch it! Once inside, find more displays of ancient life, like this amazing sabor-toothed tiger skull, as well as a brilliant gem and mineral collection.
The museum was just the right diversion this family needed to break up a long day of driving across North Dakota. Plan your own adventure to the Dakota Dinosaur Museum.
End An Evening At The Medora Musical Show
Staying overnight near Medora? Then the Medora Musical is a must-do! This outdoor, high energy, action-packed musical transports it’s audience back to the Wild West days of the North Dakota Badlands. Located in the Burning Hills amphitheater, and surrounded by amazing scenery, it’s the perfect stage for a pleasant evening show beneath the stars.
Have You Been to Medora, North Dakota!
Wow! Who know so much fun could be had in this vastly undeveloped region of North Dakota! We spent three jam-packed days exploring this area, and could have used another day. And no son, you can’t keep the box turtle as your pet either!
Have you been to Medora, western North Dakota? Did you have as much fun as we did? What was your favorite adventure? Do share!
The Medora Musical image via Medora Musical. All other images by C.Biederman.