Medora — a Great North Dakota ride

Riding in to Medora

Where to go and how to get there. 

Medora, in the southwestern corner of North Dakota gets a chapter all its own in the upcoming ebook Great North Dakota Rides.  It’s a peaceful town, always has been, well at least in this century.  In the 1800s the town had its share of feuds, fights and gun battles, especially over property rights.  These days, though its a good place to ride to for visual beauty or a shady respite.  And if you have a good imagination, you can easily picture life here before modern civilization.

Site of the 1800's Medora Packing Plant

The Frenchman, the Marquis D’Mores was 100 years ahead of his time. In the mid 1800’s ranchers would herd their cattle to a rail yard and load them in to livestock cars to head east for butchering.  The Marquis thought it more efficient to slaughter the cattle here and ship the beef east.  He built a packing plant where it’s remnants are on the east side of town, Medora (named for his wife).

The ride there through western North Dakota is some of the best riding anywhere. The highways are in good shape except where oil field traffic has beat the roads to death.  The scenery is open and rolling with exposure to the state’s economic roots — agriculture and oil like this oil well along Highway 200.  Or you can ride the direct route, taking Interstate 94 to the western edge of the state.  The town is just off I-94. You can ride in from one direction and out the other direction if you want.

Through the Oil Field

So pack your imagination and head west where you can read the history of the region including the role the area played in Theodore Roosevelt’s adult life and presidency.  Picture the cattle drives, the saloons, the ranching — or take a jaunt south of town to ride back in to ranch country where some a single ranch can be larger than an entire t in many eastern states.

Cowboy Hall of Fame

If you’re interested in the cowboy lifestyle, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame is a continually updated museum and showcase of North Dakota history especially the ranching, cowboy and rodeo history of the state.

Roadside Deer

One of the jewels of the region and a worthy ride is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It’s 35 mile loop through the park will take you through prairie dog towns, herds of buffalo, wild horses and other wildlife and outstanding scenery.  It’s not a place to be in a hurry — you’ll miss much of the attraction — but you could also run in to some of the natural residents who linger along the side of the road.

In August this year tourism officials started the first moves to make Medora a stopping point for bikers headed to or from the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.  That may be a good idea, but if you are looking for one of the most unusual rides in the region, you don’t need the motivation of a South Dakota Rally.  There’s good eating, good history, good rest, good scenery — and it just plain makes a good reason to mount up and take a ride, even for an ice cream cone.

When the ebook of Great North Dakota Rides is published this spring, you’ll get a better idea, tips and hints for a ride to Medora.  Check it out in 2012 at

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