Far removed from the hustle of New York or the bustle of LA, the midwest lifestyle is a little slower and laid back; the perfect place to relax. The images you see of the Dakota’s are sprawling fields, horses, incredible landscapes, history that comes alive, and then there are the tales of that famous mid-west hospitality.
From cowboys to Lewis & Clark, dirt bike riding and dinosaurs, there’s so much to see, do and experience in legendary North Dakota.
The Beauty of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
What North Dakota lacks in big cities it makes up for in wide open space and scenery. To the west of the state, the 70,000 acres that is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is filled with canyons, trails, buttes and the Little Missouri River. An adventurer’s dream!
Experience the park by foot or horseback, come up close with the parks official mascot – the bison – who roam freely in the park, and consider spending a night camping or at one of the hotels.
For those who prefer the comfort of driving, there’s a 36-mile scenic loop that travels through the park.
For the adventure seeker, there’s also a 140-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail for bike riders which runs just outside the park’s borders.
Spend even just a day there and you’ll understand what the former American president, whose name graces the park, loved about this place.
North Dakota by Horseback
You’re never too old to play cowboy. Whether it’s meeting a rodeo rider or taking to the trails on horseback; exploring North Dakota’s Badlands is the perfect place to hit the trail.
While the Theodore Roosevelt National Park has many trails, the Painted Canyon’s has to be among the most beautiful.
Take the Painted Canyon Nature Trail – a 1.4km trail – by foot or horseback to get a scenic view across the Badlands, and the most incredible view at sunset.
If you prefer watching others riding, be sure to meet some of the rodeo riders and ranchers that call the state home. North Dakota’s Cowboy Hall of Fame shares the stories of these talented riders.
For those with an interest in paleontology, or even those that are big kids at heart, you can trace the history of dinosaurs in North Dakota from about 90 million years ago.
Start with seeing the life-size skeletons of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismark. The museum will lead you through time as you follow the story of life and geology in North Dakota. The Center is also home to the world’s largest intact Triceratops skull.
For even more dino goodness, the Dakota Dinosaur Museum, located in Dickinson, is a must stop. See 14 dinosaurs and over 800 fossils, rocks, and minerals.
The name “Dakota” means “friend or ally” in the Lakota language. Currently, there are around 30,000 Indians which call North Dakota home (around 5% of the population). Though each has distinct customs and histories, many share similar core beliefs and are committed to preserve and sharing their heritage.
Each September, the United Tribes International powwow showcases more than 70 tribes and 1,500 dancers and drummers in a colourful display.
If you aren’t visiting in September, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, located near Stanton, provides insight into how the native people lived and houses the remains of three Hidatsa villages.
It’s also where Sakakawea lived when she met explorers Lewis and Clark at nearby Fort Mandan.
The Tales of Lewis & Clark
I was familiar with their names but not with their stories, it turns out that Lewis & Clark spent more time in North Dakota than any other state. From the plains to the native tribes, their story is kept alive today.
The explorers that helped America secure its claim to the West at the turn of the 19th Century came across North Dakota on their trek from St Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean. People wishing to follow in their footsteps can do so by renting a canoe and taking to the waters of the Missouri River.
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Centre in Washburn highlights the fascinating history of these adventurers, in particular, the winter they spent at nearby Fort Mandan.
The North Dakota Bucket List
To make planning your trip to North Dakota (and my own!) I’ve put together this downloadable and printable North Dakota Bucket List to inspire you!
Let me know below
Have YOU been to North Dakota?
What should I add to my Legendary North Dakota bucket list?
This blog post was brought to you by North Dakota Tourism.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.