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North Dakota

North-Dakota

Great Destination:

4

Value for Money:

4

Total Stars:

8.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Appeal among all groups rose in most recent survey, but still is somewhat stronger among those with Authentic leanings

Did You Know…?

  • The geographic center of North America is near Rugby, N.D.
  • Periodically, North Dakota’s legislature considers renaming the state Dakota.
  • The State Capitol in Bismarck is the state’s tallest building (241 feet).
  • The Dakotas were admitted to the Union the same day (1889), but no one knows which was first.
  • The golf course at Portal straddles the Canadian border, as does the fairway at the ninth hole.

Bad news, good news

Not all that many people live in North Dakota so it is not, by certain standards, a happenin’ place. Then again, not all that many people live in North Dakota, and we are presented with a wide-open land lightly touched by humankind and still richly reminiscent of America’s West before or, in some cases, soon after settlers rolled into the area.

The net result: Farm country, ranch country, wildlife refuges, rodeos, powwows and lots of elbow room to hunt and fish, camp out, bike, hike, watch birds — and think.

This rectangular state is categorized as part of America’s Upper Midwest, but take a closer look, and here is a state that is truly part of the West. It has so many vestiges of what we call the Old West that visitors may find it easier to recapture a sense of that past here than they would in states that sit farther west on a map. For one thing, it was bypassed by most white settlers except for Germans, Norwegians and Swedes.

North Dakota holds on to its own character and distinctiveness. The traveler will see the vast sweeping plains and magnificent emptiness that epitomize the frontier.

The visitor also will find the descendants of the hard-working northern Europeans who adjusted to the landscape and the harsh weather, as well as descendants of the Indians who objected. With that combination, the rodeo and powwow are as much a part of the landscape as nature’s gifts.  Visitors also come for wildlife viewing, or for hunting and fishing.

North Dakota is particularly suitable for the venturesome, who may be missing a good bet when they don’t give it a closer look. A vacation here means really getting away from it all. There are no crowded beaches or bright lights; those are for other people and places. Locals are friendly and the place is safe.

Spring, summer and early fall are the best times to visit. Temperatures may be cooler than expected, and, for winter visits, sensible precautions are a must.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Compete in the Annual Volunteer Fire Department Ice Fishing Tournament on Six Mile Bay, west of Devils Lake. Or, fish through the ice on Devils Lake itself, a site noted for perch.
  • Travel by mountain bike across the state, using its excellent country roads or designated scenic byways and unpaved backways for scenic trips.
  • Join one of the state’s public fossil digs, looking for dinosaurs and other long-ago inhabitants of the area.
  • Be part of something larger: Follow the North Country National Scenic Trail, which links seven states beginning with New York in the East and terminating in North Dakota. Hike, ride horseback, cross-country ski or snowshoe, depending on season and inclination.
  • Take a trip by wagon train. Make it the annual (June) weeklong Fort Seward Wagon Train in Jamestown. You can participate on horseback or by riding a wagon.
  • Travel the wide-open spaces of North Dakota by motorcycle. Sample the state’s numerous off-road riding options in the Badlands, grasslands and river bottoms. Also, for women only: Attend the annual North Dakota Ladies Motorcycle Run (the venue varies).

Things to do for Centrics

  • Fish for catfish in the Red River of the North.
  • Tour a coal mine, such as the Freedom Mine or the Dakota Westmoreland Coal Mine, both in the Beulah area.
  • Canoe the Pembina River for a particularly awe-inspiring way to see Pembina Gorge. Or, canoe on the Little Missouri, a National Scenic River.
  • Attend North America’s largest Scandinavian festival, the October Norsk Hostfest, in Minot.
  • Arrange a tour of the Grand Forks Air Force Base, home to the 319th Air Refueling Wing. You have to be part of a group of at least six.
  • Sample all things wintry at the Shiverfest at Devils Lake.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Buy tickets to the Frost Fire Summer Theater, which offers Broadway-style productions in an outdoor setting overlooking the Pembina Gorge.
  • See a silent movie at the historic Fargo Theatre.
  • Attend a rodeo. Examples are the Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo and Champion’s Ride Rodeo in Sentinel Butte, but there are plenty elsewhere in the state, too.
  • Drive North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway, which is populated by amusing examples of immense metal sculptures representing things as diverse as a robot family, geese, grasshoppers, pheasants and others. It is one of the state’s several national and state scenic byways and backways.
  • Attend the Memorial Day Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Medora.
  • Eat Norwegian food specialties at Scandinavian festivals or in the restaurants.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the North Dakota Tourism Division at www.ndtourism.com