Many US members of Girls Who Travel have a goal of seeing all 50 states. There are so many wonderful places to see in the US that popular states tend to be the first ones on their lists. Less popular states tend to be farther down on that list. North Dakota tends to be one of the last states to visit, partially because of where its located. It’s in the middle of the country, but borders Canada. It also doesn’t quite have all the allure that many other states have. However, North Dakota has some hidden gems that should make you want to put it higher on your list.
The Badlands and more
The other Dakota gets a lot of publicity for it’s Badlands, especially Badlands National Park. But North Dakota also has its fair share of Badlands for people to enjoy. In case you don’t know what Badlands are: they are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water.
North Dakota is home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Fun fact: this is the only US National park named after a person, our 26th president. Even though Roosevelt wasn’t from North Dakota, he was a frequent visitor and lover of the landscape. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to many hiking trails, as well as the 3rd largest herd of bison in the nation.
Festivals and the international peace garden
When you visit the National Park, make a trip to the town of Medora, which is a small town in the middle of the Badlands. Medora is home to a famous musical in the summertime called, wait for it, The Medora Musical.
Minot is the home of the Norsk Hostfest, which is the largest Scandinavian festival in North America. It is also home to the Scandinavian Heritage Park, the only outdoor museum in the world that represents all 5 Scandinavian countries.
Did you know there is large garden that straddles the US/Canadian border? You can visit the International Peace Garden, which is a symbol of the friendship between the US and Canada near Dunseith. At 2400 acres, it encompasses a hiking trails, botanical gardens, and a museum. Did I mention it also has a floral clock with a design that changes annually? Between Minot and Dunseith, you can stop in Rugby and visit the Geographical Center of America. Depending on the time of year, you may also have a chance to see the Aurora Borealis (aka the Northern Lights).
The Lewis and Clark Trail
Throughout the middle of North Dakota, you can follow the Lewis and Clark Trail. Lewis and Clark were hired by Thomas Jefferson after the Louisiana Purchase, to explore and document the newly acquired land. Camp and canoe along the Missouri River, check out all the wildlife in the little Missouri River Valley, or take a river cruise when you stop in Bismarck, the capitol of North Dakota. In Bismarck, you can visit the North Dakota Heritage Museum to learn about the history of the state. In September you may be able to see the United Technical College Pow-wow. The pow-wow is a celebration of the region’s Native American tribes where members sing, dance in competitions, and sell local foods and hand made goods.
Along the Lewis and Clark trial is Lake Sakakawea, named after the famous Shoshone tour guide who assisted them on the expedition . The Lake Sakakawea shoreline is 180 miles long and encompasses many state parks and camping locations. While heading to the western side of the state, you can check out the Enchanted Highway. It is a 32 mile stretch of highway decorated in large metal sculptures. Or check out the World’s Largest Fiber Glass Holstein in New Salem. Fire up those Instagrams ladies, North Dakota is the land of highway bling!
North Dakota may not have the appeal that many other popular (and populated) states claim, but if you visit, chances are you won’t regret putting this state higher on your list!
I work to live! I live in Colorado, have seen 39 US states and 10 countries, and love the touristy things!