North Dakota : Safety by City
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Medora, North Dakota, is a charming town located in the Badlands of North Dakota.
It has a rich history, a strong connection to former President Theodore Roosevelt, and is famous for its unique musical.
Medora’s history is closely tied to the expansion of the railroad in the late 19th century.
The town was founded in 1883 and named after the wife of the Marquis de Mores, a French nobleman who played a significant role in its early development.
It started as a hub for cattle shipping and meatpacking, but the town’s boom was relatively short-lived.
One of the most significant aspects of Medora’s history is its association with Theodore Roosevelt.
Before becoming the 26th President of the United States, Roosevelt visited Medora in 1883 to hunt bison.
He was so enamored with the rugged beauty of the Badlands and the spirit of the American West that he invested in a ranch there.
This experience profoundly influenced his conservationist views and led to the creation of the National Park System.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located near Medora, is a tribute to his legacy and a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
The park preserves the landscape Roosevelt once roamed and is home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, pronghorns, and wild horses.
Another hallmark of Medora is the outdoor musical bearing its name.
The musical is a unique blend of entertainment, history, and patriotism, celebrating the spirit of the Old West.
It features talented performers, including the Burning Hills Singers and the Coal Diggers Band.
The show is a vibrant spectacle, complete with singing, dancing, and fireworks
A MUSICAL IN NORTH DAKOTA?:
The idea for the Medora Musical came from Harold Schafer, a North Dakota businessperson who wanted to revitalize the town.
He saw the potential of musical production in the picturesque setting of Medora and collaborated with local talent to bring it to life.
The show quickly gained popularity and became a cultural icon in North Dakota.
Medora, ND, is a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and entertainment.
You might find this especially surprising since the town has fewer than 150 people, and the entire county has fewer than 1,000!
It’s a place where the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt and the Wild West lives, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking an authentic and captivating experience.
Warnings & Dangers in Medora
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk here with an abundance of things to do. The biggest safety step is being prepared for the weather.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You won't find public transportation or taxis here. The small town of 120 people is very walkable, but a rental car will be required to journey outside of town.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Statistically and historically, the risk is low. This is still a big tourist area, and proper steps should be taken to limit what you carry and keep personal items out of plain sight.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This medium risk runs throughout the year, from spring flooding to summer severe storms to winter blizzards. Stay weather-aware while visiting and have a way to receive weather alerts.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, far lower than most other towns in America. There are no records of any robberies in Billings County going back to 2000.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is another low risk, with such a small town surrounded by preserved land. At the same time, this is a hunting area, so you will likely see people with guns or weapons for that reason.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scams here are few and far between, but check the sheriff's website before your visit to make sure a new scam hasn't popped up.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Women are just as safe as men, and this destination is age-appropriate for every generation. Of course, standard safety measures still apply.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The water here is safe to drink, and the water quality reports show compliance for the past several years across the county. If you're visiting during a flood or winter storm, ask if there are any special steps to take to keep pipes from bursting or freezing.
Safest Places to Visit in Medora
The official tourism site is MedoraND.com.
You can download the visitor’s guide without giving your name, email, or phone number, which is always a plus in my privacy-protected life.
One of the most epic things to do in Medora is the Medora Musical at the Burning Hills Amphitheater.
This captivating outdoor performance combines music, comedy, and storytelling, providing a taste of the Old West.
Since Medora Musical is an outdoor venue, this show is only in season during the summer.
Look for year-round events at the Von Hoffman House, a museum and venue on the National Register of Historic Places.
The home was built in 1884 and contains many of the original furnishings.
Explore the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site to learn about the town’s history and its ties to the cattle industry.
It’s a step back in time that’s both educational and fascinating.
Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the Bully Pulpit Golf Course, known for its scenic fairways and challenging holes with panoramic Badlands views.
It’s ranked as one of the best 100 courses in the nation.
Immerse yourself in North Dakota’s cowboy culture at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, where you can discover the history and contributions of cowboys and cowgirls to the state’s heritage.
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher were recently spotted at this museum.
Saddle up for a horseback riding adventure and explore the Badlands on horseback with guided rides offered by local outfitters.
Stroll along Medora’s Main Street, where you can shop for Western-themed souvenirs, artwork, and handmade crafts in unique boutiques and shops.
Kids and adults will love the Perception House, which defies gravity and offers optical illusions during a 20-minute tour.
Another great stop for kids is the Medora Children’s Park, with an old western fort facade instead of a traditional playground.
At Theodore Roosevelt National Park, you can immerse yourself in the stunning Badlands landscape.
Don’t miss the chance to take scenic drives through the park’s North and South Units, offering breathtaking views of colorful rock formations and the winding Little Missouri River.
Looking ahead, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will open in 2025.
You can learn more about that at TRLibrary.com.
I’ve noticed many restaurants and other food facilities here won’t have their own website.
You’ll be better served trying to find them on Facebook.
Places to Avoid in Medora
Medora is way too small to avoid any part of town, so it’s good that there aren’t bad neighborhoods or dangerous areas.
You should respect private property vs. protected land.
Avoid ignoring warning signs about dangers, risks, or end of trails.
As part of the Leave No Trace principles, you should avoid leaving trash, pet waste, or disrupting the natural environment.
That includes never going off a designated trail.
Winter and spring visitors should check the weather closely before starting the trip.
A winter storm can easily close down roads, parks, and businesses.
While severe summer weather can be intense, it usually passes quickly.
Winter storms can leave the area paralyzed for days.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Medora
- Medora gets its law enforcement from the Billings County Sheriff. Be sure you are in North Dakota when doing research, as Billings is a city in Montana. To help you along, their Facebook page is @Billingscountyssheriff, and their phone number is (701)623-4323.
- The local National Weather Service office is out of Bismarck, North Dakota. You can get a zone forecast for Billings by looking at their website and following them on social media.
- Weather alerts will come if you have WEA notifications enabled on your device, but with so much open space, you might not always have a good mobile signal. Buy a NOAA-approved weather radio if you’ll be away from Wi-Fi for extended periods of time.
- Check fire conditions and restrictions when you’re visiting Medora and surrounding areas. You can review the current fire map at NDResponse.gov.
- While you’re there, check the weather disasters that can happen based on your season of travel. Tornadoes require different planning tools than blizzards, but both are equally dangerous.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the North Dakota Department of Fish & Game. You can buy that license online and must keep it with you at all times while fishing.
- If you’ll be visiting more national parks or federal lands than just Theodore Roosevelt National Park, consider buying an American the Beautiful pass. At just $80, it quickly pays for itself and runs for an entire year.
- Never reach your hand on top of a rock or under one. That’s where snakes like to hang out. Rattlesnakes roam this region and aren’t always the best at giving a warning rattle before striking. It’s also important to have boots that cover your ankles for this very reason.
- Stay at least 25 yards from large animals like bison. Even making a noise to get a bison’s attention is considered harassment of wildlife.
- Bring a water filtration kit with you into the wild, as you should never drink water straight from a river, stream, or pond. As a general rule, carry a gallon of water per person when hiking or exploring away from freshwater sources.
So... How Safe Is Medora Really?
You can count the number of violent crimes and property crimes on one hand for the past few years in Medora and surrounding Billings County.
It’s especially important to note that the low crime rate comes with the thousands of tourists that come through the region, not just the 121 or so people who live there.
Low crime numbers shouldn’t allow you to get your guard down.
Crime rates can change, and thieves will still look for a crime of opportunity.
As noted above, you do need to be well aware of weather and wildlife risks in this region.
Winters aren’t just inconveniently cold; they can be downright deadly if you aren’t prepared.
Avoid wildlife and view from a distance.
Invest in a zoom lens on a camera to get the best photos.
The National Park Service manages its properties and can change people for crimes committed on public lands.
All of that is out of an abundance of caution, and you can enjoy Medora and Billings County safely with the proper preparation.
How Does Medora Compare?
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International visitors should review the U.S. State Department website and use the Visa Wizard to find the right visa for their trip. You might also be eligible for a visa waiver. You'll also need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. As this is such a small town, exchange currency at your home bank or a local branch where you are a member. Try to purchase as much as possible on a credit card for better fraud protection.
Keep in mind that Medora's weather can be unpredictable, so it's a good idea to check the local forecast before your visit, especially if you plan outdoor activities. Layered clothing is advisable, as temperatures can vary widely throughout the day. Don't skimp on warm clothing from October through April. Even summer nights can be cool. Bug spray is needed when temperatures are warm, and wear sunscreen year-round.
Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport is the closest option, just 40 miles away, but it also only has service to Denver. Unfortunately, there aren't major airports within this region.
Travel insurance is a smart investment for the risky weather here and the potential for delays by sky and road. Be sure you have health insurance coverage in the U.S., or consider a supplemental policy.
Medora Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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North Dakota - Safety by City