This was the 49th state I have visited (sleeping, eating, and some exploration counts while drive through or toe down do not count to me).....and it did not disappoint.
North Dakota is much more spread out, is less populated, and seems vastly richer than most states in our country. While there we read a report showing that North Dakota pumps 2/3 the number of barrels of oil per day as Saudi Arabia!!!!!! This represents a lot of money, jobs of all types, construction, pricey restaurants, and retaining all if its young people in full employment. We advise any young people looking to leave major metropolitan centers to consider Bismarck or Fargo for new life opportunities. All the young people we spoke to were happy to have great options and saw no need to leave their lovely home state.
Medora, the town at the entry to Theodore Roosevelt national park, is owned now by a not for profit foundation after the Harold and Sheila Schafer family turned it over after making it into a money maker. Harold, a successful businessman who created Glass Wax and several other successful household products, bought a run down old town and turned it into a major tourist attraction in the state. The 3-4 hotels are not cheap but stepped down in price, the 4-5 restaurants are relatively high in price for the quality (except for the highest price very good Theodore's in the best hotel, the Rough Rider), and the nightly Medora Musical has talented young people performing in a magnificent amphitheater set in the side of a canyon wall. This show would benefit greatly by hiring better writers to enhance the story line and avoid the over used ploy of answering questions with the wrong response and then saying "No, that's not how it was"....very trite and potentially misleading to children. There are many other ways to tell historical stories that are far more captivating. Medora and Teddy Roosevelt National Park are still worthwhile.
The national park is, of course, gorgeous but a little redundant if you have also visited Badlands in South Dakota. Teddy Roosevelt had a ranch there and it was one of the first major sites he preserved as a national park. This park is less crowded and has more animals. We took several back roads from Medora to Bismarck, specifically to see the local towns, Painted Canyon, and the Enchanted Highway. A local metal worker turned sculptor has constructed quite a few gigantic sculpture stops that are whimsical, talented, and make the back roads trip totally worthwhile. We are even having a small piece of his work shipped to us to affix to the outside of our house. We thought the East 40 Restaurant in Bismarck to be good but very pricey and spent over $40. just for sharing one cup of soup and one salad with no drinks.
Near Fargo we explored a lovely scenic byway (south from Valley City to Fort Ranson) through rolling hills, small towns, a former fort, some parks, and in Fargo ate at a very good and fairly priced restaurant that specialized in rotisserie chickens cooked on spits over a wood fire (Doolittle's Woodfire Grill).
Having taken riverboats, visited pioneer villages, and forts we decided to skip the Missouri boat trip, Bonanzaville, and Fort Abraham Lincoln but others may enjoy those, especially if you have children along.
More of this trip report is posted on the Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska forums.