North Dakota Tourism | Exploring the Midwest Episode 6

Last Updated on April 29, 2021 by Jody Halsted

Jody is joined by Kim Schmidt, Communications Manager for North Dakota Tourism

Moderating the broadcast chat is Alicia Underlee Nelson, a freelance writer and photographer who wrote “North Dakota Beer: A Heady History,” penned the North Dakota section of the new “Midwest Road Trip Adventures” anthology and co-hosts the Travel Tomorrow podcast. Follow her adventures in the Midwest and around the world at Prairie Style File.

Be Lengedary in North Dakota

I absolutely love the slogan ‘Be Legendary’. It offers a feeling of epic adventure- something North Dakota has offered visitors for years.

But it’s a state that people tend to put off visiting…

North Dakota is well positioned and ready to welcome travelers when they are ready to visit. Our motto has been to “Follow your curiosity, not the crowds” even prior to the pandemic. Our wide-open spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities are perfect for those seeking the perfect getaway or road trip.

bison photo courtesy of ND Tourism

Misconceptions about ND

North Dakota is not the least visited state but we do have communities that embrace the fact that many travelers save ND as their last state.

Fargo has a “Saved the Best for Last” club with photo op and T-shirts.

The Bismarck-Mandan CVB also has a photo op space so those that are looking to fulfill that bucket list, 2021 is the year to check it off the list!

Things to See & Do in North Dakota

North Unit Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Visitors to the three units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park find the dramatic scenery and recreational opportunities awe-inspiring.

Bike, hike or run all 144 miles of the Maah Daah Hey Trail — all at once or in return visits. It follows the Little Missouri River through rugged Badlands, passing by or through all three units of the national park.

Larger than life sculptures – Home to the “World’s Largest Buffalo” and “World’s Largest Holstein”.

The Enchanted Highway is a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures constructed at intervals along a 32-mile stretch of two-lane highway in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of North Dakota.

Road trip itineraries customized by route or theme – from the Cowboy Up tour to off-the beaten path trips, something for the “foodies” to scenic byways and backways, there’s one for everyone.

The Pembina Gorge is a 12,500-acre year-round recreation area. Explore it on your ATV or dirt bike, by foot or on horseback. Recreation in the Pembina Gorge consists of canoeing, hiking, biking horseback riding, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, wildlife observing and birding, guaranteeing year round family entertainment. At least 65 different natural diversity features have been documented to be in the Pembina Gorge, including 30 plant species and 21 animal species, which are categorized as “rare” in the state. They also recently opened a Mountain Bike Terrain Park within the recreation area.

State Parks – Outdoor recreation complete with unique sleeps that include yurts, tipis and even covered wagons for lodging experiences.

Stand in two nations at once — one foot in Canada and one in the United States at the International Peace Garden north of Dunseith. It’s a giant botanical garden celebrating peace between the two nations with more than 150,000 flowers planted each year.

Look out for that mastodon! Visit the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck to see prehistoric creatures, Native American history and more. If art is your thing, see the nationally accredited Plains Art Museum in Fargo with a mural by internationally renowned artist and North Dakota native, James Rosenquist.

Seaman the Dog at Fort Mandan North Dakota

Lewis and Clark Trail – The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, made its way through North Dakota twice between 1804 and 1806. They spent more time in North Dakota than anywhere else on their journey and this is also where they met their guide, Sakakawea.

Photo Opps in North Dakota

Sunflowers! North Dakota is a leading producer of sunflowers and many seek them out in August for the perfect photo backdrop. We provide a map for travelers that is available mid-summer.

murals photo courtesy of ND Tourism

Outdoor Mural Art – Several communities throughout North Dakota have mural art and some, such as Fargo, have a map for visitors. There is also a Barn Quilt Trail. 

Some Fun Facts About North Dakota

  • North Dakota is the ONLY state in the country to have a National Park named after a president, Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
  • Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota has more shoreline than the state of California
  • Teddy bears got their name from former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. North Dakota is home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, known for its scenic beauty and natural wildlife.
  • Little Missouri National Grasslands is the largest grassland in the United States at more than 1 million acres and one of three grasslands in North Dakota.

North Dakota Highlights in 2021

Heritage River Landing – Opening Spring 2021 
Heritage Landing in Bismarck will feature a full restaurant and bar and a 4,000-square-foot deck overlooking the Missouri River and the dock for the Lewis and Clark Riverboat in Bismarck. A soft opening is scheduled for May and a grand opening in June. More details will be forthcoming. 

MHA Interpretive Center – Opening Spring 2021 
The MHA Interpretive Center will use living history programs to tell the story of the Great MHA Nation. Interpretive Center building will house 10 offices and a large display of museum quality and interactive kiosk of the culture. The building will have a 250 seat event room and a stat of the art kitchen for preparing traditional meals to the public at certain events. A classroom will be provided for cultural educational classes such as traditional food, beading, tanning hides, etc. The MHA Interpretive Center will house a Coffee Shop and Gift Shop that will sell merchandise with the MHA logo. In addition to the new building, we are building and amphitheater with 500 outside seating. 

Peaceful Valley Ranch – Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Spring 2021 
The rehabilitation and stabilization project at the historic Peaceful Valley Ranch in the South Unit began last spring and is nearing completion. 
Workers have begun on the buildings’ interiors after exterior work on the ranch house, log bunkhouse and barn. 
Logs were replaced and chinked on the barn and bunkhouse. The buildings were jacked up and restabilized. The barn’s floor was replaced. Windows were redone, the buildings were reroofed and the ranch house was repainted a creamy white.  The historic ranch dates to the 1880s, when Roosevelt hunted and ranched in the area, and was park headquarters from 1947-59. The ranch most recently was home to a horseback riding outfit until 2014. 

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