Engelstad Foundation Awards $1 Million Lead Grant to New “Access Medora” Initiative

Gift to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation kicks off new efforts to improve the Medora experience for people with disabilities.

(MEDORA, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is pleased and humbled to announce the receipt of a $1 million kick-starting gift from the Engelstad Foundation to support a new “Access Medora” initiative – an initiative aimed at improving the Medora experience for guests with disabilities through creative, adaptive solutions and unique amenities in North Dakota’s #1 Tourist Destination.

The first project of the initiative is a pair of high-capacity elevators at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre dedicated to guests with mobility challenges. Currently, guests who require mobility assistance are shuttled in golf carts on a walkway shared with pedestrians, and on busy nights, can experience up to an hour wait for a ride out of the theater. These new, high-capacity elevators will take up to 12guests from the top level of the theater to the midlevel plaza, and back, and should reduce wait times to just a few minutes.

Thanks to the Engelstad Foundation grant, construction on this elevator will begin this year and will be ready to provide safer, faster access in time for the 2022 Medora Musical season.

“Theatrical and musical arts are vital, cultural components of our society and should be enjoyed by all,” said Kris Engelstad McGarry, Trustee of the Engelstad Foundation. “This grant will provide those with disabilities seamless access to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation’s dynamic and incredible programming for years to come.”

In a video statement below, TRMF President, Randy Hatzenbuhler, remembered the leap forward that the opening of the outdoor escalator provided for guests 30 years ago at the Medora Musical, and shared his gratitude for this next major improvement thanks to the Engelstad Foundation.

Other potential “Access Medora” projects and programming have been outlined for future implementation. Future projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Partner driven camps hosted in our accessible facilities
  • TRMF staff dedicated as an ambassador and advocate, and to assist in providing individual trip planning for guests with special needs
  • Establish an “Access Medora” endowment to maintain access-focused capital improvements and support partner programming
  • Summer employment opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Adaptive solutions for mountain biking and hiking as well as horseback riding

The high-capacity elevators at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre are just the first of many improvements and advancements TRMF will be implementing as part of the “Access Medora” initiative to help this cherished place be more inclusive to all.


The Engelstad Foundation’s generous gift will create a wonderful opportunity for even more families to enjoy the Medora Musical and experience the Badlands for positive, life-changing experiences.

Image of the high-capacity elevator location. 

Access Medora Initiative Details.

Subscribe