On Day 6, the last “official” day of our North Dakota road trip, we drove from Dickinson to Medora. We toured historical and cultural attractions during the day and ended the evening with a delightful outdoor musical performance, complete with a fireworks finale.
On the way to our first attraction of the day, we spotted The Brew in downtown Dickinson. We just had to stop, as much as for the unique setting as for a morning eye opener. Located in a former church, the inside of The Brew still looks much like a church. The owners left the stained glass windows in place, and made some of the seats from pews. It almost felt sacrilegious sitting in there eating breakfast and chatting.
Dickinson Museum Center
Our next stop was the Dicksinson Museum Center, a 12-acre cultural and natural history campus. During our visit to the museum center, we toured Dickinson Dinosaur Museum, Joachim Regional Museum, and Prairie Outpost Park.
Dickinson Dinosaur Museum
The Dickinson Dinosaur Museum contains a small, but impressive, collection of dinosaur fossil specimens, including a complete Triceratops skull.
However, the rocks and minerals were my favorite exhibits. Variegated rocks … sparkly rocks … and fluorescent rocks—er, minerals. The fluorescent minerals actually glow under a blacklight.
Do you know the difference between a rock and a mineral? A mineral is a naturally occurring solid formation. A rock is a solid mass made up of two or more minerals. Who knew?
Embarrassing moment: While we were in the Dinosaur Museum, an alarm went off—a loud, piercing siren. It turns out my husband set it off! He was reaching over the rail at the dinosaur exhibit to take pictures. The dangling camera strap triggered the alarm sensor.
Joachim Regional Museum
Next, we visited the Joachim Regional Museum. The Joachim is chock full of regionally historical artifacts. It’s scary to think that some of the “historical artifacts” in the museum were considered modern when I was growing up.
Prairie Outpost Park
Following our trip down memory lane at the Joachim Regional Museum, we toured the Prairie Outpost Park. Several regional historical buildings, moved from their original locations to the Dickinson Museum Center property, form the outdoor museum. Buildings include a Norwegian stabbur, a church, a one-room school house and the Heath-Steinmetz house. The Health-Steinmentz house is unique in that, although the 1917 home remained in the original family until 1991, the owners never remodeled it, not even to add electricity or plumbing.
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One building in the Prairie Outpost Park that isn’t historical is the Czech Town Hall. It was constructed 2001 and serves as a mini-museum that focuses on the heritage of Czech immigrants who settled in southwest North Dakota.
Ukrainian Cultural Institute
Our last Dickinson stop was the Ukrainian Cultural Institute. Immigrants from the Ukraine settled in the Dickinson area in the early 1910s. The Ukrainian Cultural Institute preserves the region’s Ukrainian heritage with displays of clothing, musical instruments, needlework, dolls, and more.
Near Easter the center offers a one-day Pysanky workshop. Pysanky are intricately decorated Easter eggs.
The St. Josephat Chapel, in the Ukrainian Cultural Center, celebrates liturgies in the Ukrainian language the second Friday of each month. The chapel altar was originally in St. Josephat Church, which closed in 1974.
Painted Canyon Visitor Center
Leaving Dickinson, we continued our North Dakota road trip, heading west to Medora. Along the way, we stopped at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center (Exit 32 on I-94). Whether you need a rest stop or not, I strongly suggest you make this stop and take in the view of the North Dakota Badlands. Gorgeous!
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
Just outside the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora has a touristy, Western feel to it, a perfect location for the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame highlights western heritage and cultures through dioramas and artifacts pertaining to Native Americans, ranching and rodeos.
In the Hall of Fame transportation section, I was intrigued by the refrigerated boxcar exhibit. In early railroad days, refrigerated boxcars were regular boxcars with the doors removed. They could only use them in the winter. Later, meat hung above bins of ice. However, if the meat touched the ice, it would discolor and develop an off taste—I imagine what we refer to today as “freezer burn.”
The Hall of Honorees is divided into eleven divisions. Among those in the Great Westerner Division are Teddy Roosevelt, Sakakawea and Sitting Bull. Louis L’Amour, the author who wrote 105 works, mostly western novels, is honored in the Arts and Entertainment division. Steve Tomac is honored in the Rodeo Arena division. Tomac knew he wanted to be a rodeo clown when he was just seven years old. That spark never left him. He began his rodeo clown career when he was 16. Tomac was also a North Dakota State Senator for almost twenty years.
Chateau de Mores
It seems odd that a French nobleman would found a town on the North Dakota prairie. But he did. Marquis de Morris built Chateau de Mores as a hunting lodge in 1883. He started a company that slaughtered and shipped cattle to the east in cold pack railroad cars. The business collapsed in just a couple of years. The cost of shipping was too high to compete with meat packers in the east. The de Morris family moved back to Europe in 1886.
The home, restored to an 1885 look, features original furnishings. On the chateau tour, docents will fill you in on the lives of the Marquis and his wife during their time in Medora.
Pitchfork Steak Fondue
After our full day with no time for lunch, we were ready for the Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner we’d heard so much about. No grill is needed when you’ve got a pitchfork and a vat of hot oil. That’s how the steaks are cooked. Eating those steaks at a picnic table overlooking the North Dakota Badlands was the beginning of our favorite North Dakota evening.
To add to the fun, President Theodore and Mrs. Roosevelt were on hand for photo ops.
The Medora Musical was the grand finale of the “official” part of our North Dakota road trip. This western-style energetic musical performance pays tribute to President Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. The mountainous backdrop of the Burning Hills Amphitheater adds a dramatic effect to the venue. The show ends with a sensational fireworks display, leaving you feeling uplifted as you exit the amphitheater.
Rough Riders Hotel
We had the pleasure of staying at the historic Rough Riders Hotel during our night in Medora. The rustic elegance of the newly renovated hotel held the perfect ambiance for its setting in the North Dakota Badlands. Check room rates
The next morning we ate breakfast in Theodore’s Dining Room. My lemon ricotta hotcakes with fresh berries hit the spot for me. My husband, an eggs Benedict fan, enjoyed the Rough Rider Benedict.
Our North Dakota road trip continues …
Although this was the last day of our North Dakota road trip hosted by North Dakota Tourism, we experienced more of the state on our drive home. There had been times on our drive west that we lingered a little too long at some of the attractions. So we skipped a few places to make up time and visited those attractions on the drive home instead. Stay tuned for more articles about our North Dakota road trip. If you missed our previous articles about our North Dakota road trip, you can read them here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5
Disclosures: North Dakota Tourism hosted our North Dakota road trip. However, any opinions expressed in this article are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a hotel room through the “Check room rates” link above, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
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