Grownup Getaways · North Dakota

Covered Wagon Camping & Another Round of Medora Splendor

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When mama bear wants to see Theodore Roosevelt’s neighborhood, papa bear gets the van packed and the little lady to see Teddy pronto. Just something an old Roughrider would do.

Medora, North Dakota: Billings County

Our first trip to Medora, ND was in May of 2003 and it was the headliner of our honeymoon road trip through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Montana, and ending in North Dakota. We spent one night at a local Motel and then tent camped in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The only Medora place we shopped in, during the 2003 trip, was the local convenience store for ice and a little snack. Even with very small sample sized, we thought highly of the little town in Western North Dakota and wondered many times when would return. Sixteen years later, we made the return. In style!

We were lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Midwest Travel Conference and hosted by the fantastic organizers of this event. Some of the meals, accommodations, and admissions were complimentary. The views expressed are always of our own and we’re proud to give you a look at some of our Medora memories. Let’s gallivant!

Checking in!

Here’s a major part of what we loved about our weekend in Medora. We got to camp and do it in a way that was upgraded from our tent but still feel like we were outside. We were in the Badlands and still in town. We were also just far enough to have the quiet surrounding we wanted and still be walking distance to all of Medora. That’s hitting all the needs and feels we could have wanted in a return trip to this beautiful region.

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Walking distance from all of Medora’s main business district is Custer’s Cottage and their covered wagons. 701-623-4378
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Those are genuine smiles of excitement after locating our accommodations for the weekend.
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Tell’em what else they won!

A call to Mary with the phone number above and being welcomed by Kenny when we arrived. That was all it took to have our covered wagon reserved and then checked in. The hosts of this property are very kind and it makes you feel like you’re calling an old relative you haven’t heard from in ages. And they have room for you. The wagons are a comfortable fit for 1-2 and they have feel and atmosphere of roughing it a little. Electricity is included and you are just a few steps away from the coffee maker, bathroom, and shower. Our two nights here dipped down into the lower 60s, at night, with a small breeze and clear skies. PERFECT camping weather in the security of a covered wagon.

Let’s Shop!

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If you don’t like to shop, you may start to enjoy it more when you get to Medora. Sacajawea Trading Post & Snack Shop was one of our first stops.

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Isn’t that adorable. Tee-shirts and bubble gum isn’t the only things they have here. Along with the prairie dog finger puppet, you can find all sorts of gifts and jewelery to fill up that Medora Christmas list. The Medora shopping scene has plenty of variety and in places you may not be expecting. Remember that little story about a couple returning to Medora after falling passionately in love and stopping at the convenience store 16 years ago?

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Located on Pacific Ave and with some of the best customer service we received in North Dakota.

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How’s that for a neighborhood convenience store! It’s not all candy bars and and 30 packs at the Medora C-Store & Liquor Store, which you can get here too. More jewelry and souvenirs! And my favorite, local sausage! You know the main reason I’m writing about this place? It’s because I ran out of lint rollers before I got there and I really needed one. Bummer right? Wrong! The cashier dove into her purse and told me to spread my arms. That’s right, she wasn’t going to let me leave without looking sharp for my speech later. With plenty of other things she could be doing, she went North Dakota nice on me and rolled me up and down. Does the cashier at your local c-store do that? You could find something here, so “roll” with it! And I thought the caramel rolls were good in this state.

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Pacific Ave has a long row of shops that fits right in to your old west persona  you might be transforming into. And why not! You little, roughrider, you.

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The answer is yes to everything you just asked yourself. You would be better off moving forward with your life if you picked up a cowboy boots and hat, belt buckle, and lots of western style shirts. Imagine that look at your next super important meeting when you get back to work! Medora Boot & Western Wear has that leather aroma mixed with the shiny stuff to get you smiling and slipping on some new clothes.

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You never realize how much you love salt water taffy until you walk into one of these places.
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A little chocolate on the side to go with your 8 pounds of taffy you just picked out.

The Taffy Shop is also located in the long strip of shops on Pacific with plenty of selection. I felt like the candy version on Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. Watermelon and Pina Colada taffy together? Why not! Don’t pass on that huckleberry either. A little of that then some cherry taffy and you’ll have that rush you need to keep going for the rest of the afternoon.

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Prepare to have more of your vehicle occupied after stepping foot in this store. You just became a fan of North Dakota and western heritage all over again.

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Volumes and volumes of authors, artists, and talented camera work, are packed on the inspiring shelves and walls of Western Edge. This book store is easy to find while positioned on 4th Street within the middle of town. You will be soaked in history, poetry, and passion for the west in just moments of entering.

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The horse says “neigh-neigh.” The crickets say “chirp-chirp.” The Teddy says, “Bully-Bully!”

Chow time!

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That’s one way to get your vitamins!
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The traditional breakfast is never a bad idea. A big plate of cheesy hashbrowns, fried eggs, sausage patties, and buttery toast.
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They don’t take the cowboy name lightly here. Local legends in the ranching and rodeo world are proudly displayed on the walls of this here cafe.

It/s stick to you ribs o’clock and the Cowboy Cafe has the breakfast griddle fired up. It was a packed house and our orders still got to our table with great timing. Hot coffee was in no shortage and the cup was getting refilled early and often.

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This is a little burger stand in the center of town but some of their burgers aren’t little at all.
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Introducing the Maltese Burger and it’s double patty holiness.
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We ate outside because I guess you can say the weather was fair. And by fair it was absolutely perfect for an afternoon of exploring and destroying burgers! Thought about taking that rope though.

This is big beef country and The Maltese Burger is grilling up one of the best you’re getting in town. The burger that bares the name is two very juicy all beef patties with melted American cheese, grilled onions, and a fresh bun. Great spot for a burger fix as you watch the Medora universe go by from your patio table.

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Another Pacific Ave establishment that’s ready to fill up with visitors and then fill them up!
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Let’s try to say this together. Fleischkuekle. Got that? It’s a juicy and tender seasoned beef patty that’s deep-fried in a flaky dough and that’s I needed to hear to get me to order it!
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From a German staple to Asian fusion in a tortilla. The Asian grilled chicken breast wrap with General Tso sauce, broccoli slaw, and crispy oriental noodles. Those sweet potato waffle fries are looking at you!

Farm to table meets in Medora at the Farmhouse Cafe. They have a menu that gets its customers a great meal in an expeditious manner and back in that North Dakota sunshine. The Fleischkuekle was another regional delight we had and it was served very hot as you can imagine. A golden crust and savory flavor throughout with plenty more of that North Dakota beef we loved on this trip. The wrap gave a refreshing feel to our lunch with a fantastic crunch in every bite with that grilled chicken. Don’t worry, beef producers. We weren’t done supporting this industry….

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The Pitchfork Steak Fondue is a popular dinner destination in the Badlands and you better believe they have the ranch hands to wrangle in the masses.

The long summer days come to a close eventually and in Medora they keep them going a little longer into the evening. The Pitchfork Steak Fondue can get hundreds of hungry Medora loving folks fed in a short time. Fill up your tray with sides like barbecue baked beans, baked potato, fruit salad, coleslaw, fresh veggies, and garlic toast. Mosey on over to the beer and wine bar while you get your spot saved in line and don’t be shy when it’s time for a chocolate brownie. This venue sits atop of a magnificent butte and overlooks the Badlands in all directions while you dine outside under those colorful skies. Its also right next to the Medora Musical and supplies an ideal mingling atmosphere before the show begins. I keep talking about the one and only North Dakota scenery. Let’s see more of that!

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The ancient Badlands of North Dakota was “the healing place” for Teddy Roosevelt. Medora captures that very energy for many who come here.
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Millions of acres of the Little Missouri National Grasslands are ready for a thoughtful stroll like this. Start your exploration with one twirling patch of at a time.
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The Little Missouri National Grasslands are the constant neighbor of the Badlands and have been for thousands of years. A beautiful partnership here in Medora.
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Chateau de Mores State Historic Site was the host for our get together of travel bloggers, writers, photographers, and lovers of the Badlands.
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The landscape was filled with great music from You Knew Me When on the porch of the old Chateau.
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The buffalo herd taking a dip on the north flowing Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
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Your Badlands fireworks display can be one of the most amazing you can ever see.
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Back to town and a moment with Saint Mary’s Catholic Church.
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A very short morning rain dampened nothing when it came to enjoying the day in one of the Midwest’s top vacation destinations.
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The historic Roughriders Hotel & Dining blending in with another local church, bank, post office, and more of the intense white clouds meeting the blue afternoon skies in Medora.
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Cow poke friendly here in town. Tourists ride all sorts of vehicles including the ones that need to filled up with water and hay. That’s the best fuel efficiency means of travel you can partake in and its very much encourage in Medora

That’s one heck of a way to see the frontier and beauty of small town America. All this shows you how much of this country is still out there to see for yourself. I love the bells and whistles of a large metro area too but there is something to be said about this slice of the planet. Less than 130 year round residents in a county with a population of less than 800 keep, with the help of many seasonal workers, keep this area clean, spectacular, relevant, and very entertaining. They also know how to keep two dorks like us having fun late into the night.

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The Little Missouri Saloon & Dining has the live bands, great music, blackjack table, and the abundance of cold beverages coming from fast moving bartenders. Have a few rounds and get those happy faces on at Medora’s oldest saloon!

The warm days led to pleasantly crisp night in comparison. The breeze coming off the plains and into the Badlands valleys and into our covered wagon supplied the fresh air needed during our slumber. 16 years had gone by since we were breathing in the same country air. They went by so fast as you can relate to yourself. Far, far too long between visits. The “thinking about heading back” overtook the “let’s make this happen” initiative and we grasped the opportunity to join our Midwest Travel Network buddies. You’ve read how we felt about Medora, and North Dakota, now hear what we had to say in the video below.

 

 

There’s more to this place then we could ever describe. Not even Teddy Roosevelt could muster all word in his countless writings of the area and he had years to do it in. It’s time you tell your own story of Medora. It begin with blocking off part of your calendar and committing to a trip in land that you cannot compare to any other. Don’t let 16 years flow past before making it happen.

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Don’t think for a hot second that this is the only post on Medora we’ve written. Click here and read about our unforgettable experience at Teddy Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch.
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Make your Badlands trip happen by visiting the Medora website to see more of what we love about this community. You can get your legendary vacation rolling by clicking on the Travel North Dakota website as well.
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Goodnight, Teddy. Goodnight pitchfork cowboys. Goodnight, lady making the taffy. Goodnight, legends of Medora everywhere.

Gosh, we have fun.

 

 

 

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