North Dakota is one of those states that is severely underestimated. North Dakota has scenic highways, wonderful national parks, and the legendary trail of Lewis and Clark. It is a land that calls to those seeking to get lost in the vast wilderness of America.
Seemingly endless outdoor activities abound in this often-forgotten part of America. Those who know about the beauty and charm that this state holds can’t get enough of it. However, for others, it is a land waiting to be discovered. Newcomers to North Dakota might feel a little lost when planning a trip. Here is a handy outdoor guide to help you jump-start your journey.
North Dakota has every season. The winters are cold and harsh with 25-35 inches of snow. The weather in the spring can be unpredictable with temperatures rising and falling at a moment's notice. Autumn is beautiful but can be short. For those eager to spend time outdoors, the summer is your best bet.
North Dakota's summer temperatures tend to hover in the comfortable 70 to 80 range. However, this is also the peak season when tourism is at its busiest. If you are looking to have an outdoor vacation away from other campers, the best time to visit is not during peak season, but rather late spring or early fall.
North Dakota has no shortage of things to keep you entertained on any vacation. It is a state that appeals to both solo travelers, as well as people traveling with friends and family. However depending on who you travel with, it might affect some of the things you choose to see and do when visiting.
Here is a list of some of the best things to do in North Dakota. You can mix and match depending on your travel style or of those you are traveling with. Use this guide to craft your ultimate North Dakota outdoor vacation.
Lewis and Clark Trail - Have you ever wondered what it would be like to put yourself in the shoes of a couple of America's greatest explorers? The Lewis and Clark trail lets you do just that. You can retrace their routes through the frontier while learning about North Dakota's Native American culture and history.
Maah Daah Hey Trail - For mountain bikers, you won’t be able to resist the 98 miles of striking scenery along the Maah Daah Hey Trail. Cutting through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, it showcases some of the scenic prairies and badlands. Plus, recent additions to the trail allows bikers the option to add another 80 miles to this epic outdoor journey.
The Pembina Gorge - Pembina Gorge is a sheer and undisturbed river valley surrounded by vast forests, grasslands, and thickets. You can explore the valley by a variety of different ways including hiking, ATV, or dirt bike. It is one of the best places in the state for spotting rare plant and animal life.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park - This national park is a must for those seeking solace exploring the hilly grasslands and rocky badlands of North Dakota. The park is named after the former president who fell in love with the landscapes of North Dakota when he was 24. These 70,000 acres of canyons and prairies are filled with bison, mule deer, prairie dogs, and more. It is easy to see why Theodore Roosevelt said, “Here the romance of my life began.”
Devil's Lake - Devil's Lake has been called the Perch Capital of the World and is a favorite spot among fishermen who have named it one of the best fishing lakes in the entire country. Even if fishing is not your thing, there are a lot of other water activities, prime camping, and amazing hiking trails to enjoy.
Fort Abraham Lincoln - Both kids and history lovers will find Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park exciting. This area is thickly shrouded in both military and Native American history. There are portions belonging to both infantry and cavalry posts including the famous blockhouse. Also, make sure to check out the history of Native Americans at the Mandan Earth Lodges. At certain points during the year, the park has re-enactors who can transport you back into the time of Abraham Lincoln. This fort is fun for the whole family.
See an Albino Buffalo - Yes, you read that title right; albino buffaloes exist. Jamestown is all about the Great American Bison. Although bison can be found in many areas in the west, this is one of the only places you can see an albino buffalo. Just outside the city, there is an area where you can get an up close view of these white-furred creatures. Albino buffalo are extremely rare, and going to see them has become a favorite activity for travelers. The city takes pride in its claim to fame and displays the world’s largest buffalo statue for all to enjoy.
Enchanted Highway - For those who would rather see the beauty of North Dakota from the window of their car, one outdoor adventure is the Enchanted Highway. Highway 21 hosts mammoth metal sculptures, some of which are the largest in the world. They are all related to the history of the state and placed along the highway with some amazing landscapes in the backdrop.
The North Dakota Pyramid - Yes, North Dakota has a pyramid! Initially built on what was originally a missile complex, the pyramid shaped building once acted as a radar station. Luckily the base is closed, leaving North Dakota with its own pyramid.
The beauty of North Dakota is found in the untouched landscapes of the rolling prairies, large lakes, soaring badlands, and abundant wildlife. It is a state rich in Western history and can still captivate us with its grandeur. Whether you are young or old, looking for an adventure or laid back vacation, North Dakota can deliver. Why not make plans to enjoy something different this year and visit North Dakota?
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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