Most people know Medora as a charming little tourist town with knick-knack and curio shops lining the old west town.  However, Medora is a full-time cowboy town and even the county seat of Billings County. 

A cowboy walks past a covered wagon.

Streets of Medora are a mix of old and new.

Billings County Museum was the Courthouse for many decades

New to Medora? Here’s your first stop, the old Billings County Courthouse, and now the Billings County Museum. It’s the region’s visitor center and has all the brochures, maps and info you need.


That’s why it’s a different experience to check out celebrations in town outside of tourist season. 


Sure, there will be tourist visitors, even out-of-staters.  Mostly, though, the off-season events cater to locals.

Barbeque and Bluegrass

Walk the streets during the annual Barbeque and Bluegrass weekend, and there are plenty of people joining you, but the energy is different.  It’s more “low-key” and definitely more “bluegrassy.”

Click here to listen to a bit of the Flea Bitten Tramps

Flea Bitten Tramps played at the Little Missouri Saloon.

Parking is always a challenge when Medora is busy. We drove around a bit, and “voila!”  A huge curbside opening, big enough for several vehicles, opened up. We parked in front of the Billings County Museum, just up from the Billings County Courthouse and not far from the Western Edge Bookstore.  (We’d save the bookstore for last.)

We strolled to the opposite end of town, a comfortable 1-block walk to the Little Missouri Saloon and Dining.  It was still a cool early afternoon with a temperature barely above 50. Good weather for jackets.  A small crowd on the wooden sidewalk in front of Little Missouri, and a few people paying for a barbeque meal.  Mostly they were there to hear the music.

Click here for Lon Davis with Steve and Cheryl Kubik

Lon Davis with Steve and Cheryl Kubik

Lon Davis with Steve and Cheryl Kubik

Click here for Blue Mountain Boys.

Blue Mountain Boys

Blue Mountain Boys

We wandered the town, reminiscing about the closed shops, such as the ice cream shops. Dakota Cyclery was open and we decided we’d rent bicycles another time. Today was for wandering and looking.

The best little bookstore in the West

Click here to for a bit of Cottonwood playing at the Western Edge Book Store


Cottonwood at the Western Edge Bookstore

Cottonwood Blue Grass band played at the Western Edge Bookstore

Around the corner, we went near to where we started.  It was near the end of the day’s advertised hours and barbeque servers were running out of food – a good sign that the crowd was larger than expected.


At the Western Edge Bookstore and Amble Inn, a lively band entertained one of the larger stand-still collection of bluegrass lovers.  Inside was our reward- the best little bookstore in the west.  The Western Edge is a warm, easy comfort and well-stocked store with an abundance of local, regional, and themed western history, lifestyle, and nature books.

Western Edge Bookstore

Western Edge Bookstore

Browsing the store, we found fiction, non-fiction, reference books, and artwork.  The store is well-stocked with North Dakota’s favorite cowboy author Louis L’Amour.  Zane Grey and Max Brand, are some of the most popular cowboy authors and they’re ready for you at the Western Edge.

Western Edge Bookstore retail area

Western Edge Bookstore, large, open retail area with a great selection of frontier and western-themed books.

Want to learn more about Native American history, and the Plains Tribes?  A large collection of Native American books is available, including the one I’m reading now about my adopted tribe, the Mandans.

Good guys and bad guys get equal billing at the Western Edge, and if you want to know more about either, just ask Doug.  He loves stories, and has plenty to share – just name your topic!

Western Edge Bookstore and all of Medora are permanent, but the height of commercial trade is in the summer tourist months.  That’s what makes events such as the Barbeque and Bluegrass weekend so special. It’s low key, friendly and local.  So, if you don’t get to this Billings County Seat during the summer, you can still enjoy the community year round.

Do you know these bands? Are they playing in the Badlands this summer?  

Want more ideas of things to do and places to go in the North Dakota Badlands? 

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