Medora is everyone’s favorite sample of the Badlands. The Musical with its pitchfork fondue is a highlight. The entrance to the south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a big attraction to Medora.

bikes parked in Medora under a shade tree

Travelers pull over in Medora to stretch their legs and visit the old west town.


Enjoying the Badlands of North Dakota means enjoying the outdoors. 

The North Dakota Badlands as seen from the Maah Daah Hey trail

This is where you are headed when you follow the Maah Daah Hey trail, the wilderness of the North Dakota Badlands.


What’s your pleasure? Hiking, horseback riding, sight-seeing, Native American culture, camping? They’re all available in the Badlands and easily accessible. 


Choose your roads — gravel or paved

Sunset's golden glow on the Four Bears Bridge at New Town.

Four Bears Bridge is an international world class bridge at just over one-mile long. It connects Mountrail and McKenzie Counties and walking trails on either side.

If you want to stick to paved roads take Highway 22 north of I-94 at Dickinson to Killdeer and the Little Missouri State Park. It’s the most rugged section of the North Dakota Badlands, eons younger than the South Unit.  Continue north to Highway 23 and east to New Town where you will find an earth lodge village, the Three Affiliated Tribes (TAT) Museum and the world-class Four Bears Bridge and monuments.

 A second paved-road idea is to head north of Belfield on Highway 85 to Watford City. The closer you get to Watford City, the more opportunities you’ll have. Along the way, look for brown recreational signs on the highway. They’ll direct you down gravel roads to Maah Daah Hey trail heads and to campgrounds. Be prepared for long drives on the gravel roads, some can be as much as 15 or 20 miles.  Still others, such as the Summit Campground are only a few yards off the highway.

About 15 miles south of Watford City, you’ll come to the other half of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the North Unit.  It’s smaller but quieter and a bit more rugged.  Talk a walk on the Cannonball Concretions trail for an easy encounter with the Badlands.

A bison sleeps at the entrance of the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

If you’re open to gravel roads, you’ll be able to pass through the heart of the Badlands, and we recommend it! Here are two ideas:

  1. Turn north at Camel Hump exit to go to the least known Theodore Roosevelt National Park component – the Elkhorn Campground.
  2. East River Road at Medora south to the Burning Coal Veins and what was once the Theodore Roosevelt National Forest (Yes, in North Dakota!)

Of course, the best ideas of places to go and things to do in the Badlands is right here on this blog Beautiful Badlands ND. Follow it to get regular updates on things to do.  You can subscribe up there on the upper right right-hand sidebar.