I miss living in North Dakota. I know that may shock many people because when they hear of North Dakota, all they think about are the brutal snowstorms and seemingly “lame” scenery (not my words). Little do they know how rich in history—both ghostly and otherwise—North Dakota is.
Especially Medora. When I took my mom there on a visit, I had no clue how many ghost stories come from little Medora. It was wild. We even toured the most haunted hotel in North Dakota and didn’t even realize.
Why is the Rough Riders Inn considered to be so haunted?
When I originally booked our tickets, I’d noticed hotel rooms booked out for months and figured it was a swanky place. But I didn’t consider a sizeable chunk of those guests were thrill seekers looking to stay the night and see the ghosts North Dakota offers. (This is at least what the nice clerk told me).
If you’ve never heard of the Rough Riders Inn (hard to miss. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders are a big part of North Dakota), I’ll break it down.
Located in the North Dakota Badlands and one of the most famous hotels in the state, the Rough Riders Inn was first established in 1884 under the name “The Metropolitan”. The name changed not long after in 1905 to its current one. What’s touching is they chose the name “Rough Riders” in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt became smitten with Medora after a 15-day hunting trip as a young man. From there, he formed the incredible “Rough Riders”—the very first volunteer cavalry in the United States. With Teddy Roosevelt behind them at the Battle of San Juan Hill, they earned their place in history.
North Dakota, and Medora especially, are very proud of Teddy and his accomplishments and don’t shy away from it.
(My mom and I had drinks with a spot-on Teddy Roosevelt impersonator at a local bar. Teddy is the rockstar of North Dakota). You can visit the steps where he gave his famous rousing speech, witness the majesty of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
There’s so many activities to do and places to visit in Medora. But the hotel drew me in. Well-groomed and charming, from the outside, the hotel seems anything but ominous. Still, at over 100 years old, it has stories. And ghosts, apparently.
One of the many reported legends centers around the fireplace in the middle of the hotel featuring a solitary bust of Theodore Roosevelt. But it’s not Teddy who’s come back to check on things. The fireplace used bricks taken from the devastation after North Dakota’s first Capitol building burnt to the ground. Perhaps it was these bricks that brought a spirit to the Rough Riders Inn. Many reports before the renovation in 2010 said the ghost of a young boy would run around the hotel on the top floor. Guests would hear laughing, running down the halls, toilets flushing when they’re alone.
Still, these are all just rumors until proven otherwise. Today, there is no evidence connecting any event to these reports.
Can you take a ghost tour of the Rough Riders Inn?
While there is no official ghost tour offered by either the hotel or any company in Medora, that doesn’t mean you still can’t try a little sleuthing yourself. If you’d like to book a room at the Theodore Roosevelt Inn (or if you can get a room, rather), the website to book is here. From experience, I suggest you book your stay as far in advance as possible, as this is a tourist location and it's a bumpin' one. Lots of people.
I personally can’t wait until I visit North Dakota again. I’ll be heading straight to Medora and booking myself a room on the top floor of the Rough Riders Inn. My only question is: Who’s coming with me?