What to do in legendary North Dakota

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.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, 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.

Horse riding in North Dakota

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.

North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismark, North Dakota

Dinosaur Country

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.

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, North Dakota

Indian Heritage

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.

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Centre, North Dakota

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 ULTIMATE North Dakota Bucket List | #NDLegendary

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?

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This blog post was brought to you by North Dakota Tourism.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

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  • Reply
    August 7, 2015 at 2:55 am

    I visited South Dakota in high school and have always remembered it as one of my favorite trips in the States, but honestly, North Dakota’s never been high on my list of must-visit places back home. Love seeing this state’s potential as a destination from another traveler’s perspective!

  • Reply
    August 9, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    To most people in the UK, North Dakota would be a strange place to visit as we know nothing about it… most Brits normally head to New York, Florida or California and completely miss the other exciting places that the USA has to offer… this post is really interesting, North Dakota looks absolutely beautiful!


  • Reply
    August 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    A place rarley mentioned! What a great photo of the horse back riding. I must look into Dakota a bit more

  • Reply
    A Lady in London
    August 26, 2015 at 3:36 am

    North Dakota (and South Dakota, for that matter) have never really been on my radar screen. This makes it more interesting! Thanks!

  • Reply
    ND Resident
    September 21, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Western North Dakota is my family’s favorite place to vacation. . .and we’ve been to Disneyworld, Chicago, and other “famous” places. Other places cannot give you the experience that western North Dakota gives you or the type of place that it is in which to enjoy a truly refreshing vacation. It really does give you a true vacation. . .free from crowded cities and tourist attractions, free from the noise of crowded tourist attractions, etc. “Crowded” here isn’t even close because there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy and yet still experience peacefulness.

  • Reply
    Traveling Ted
    September 22, 2015 at 1:52 am

    I am just back from a week in North Dakota. I absolutely loved it. Theodore Roosevelt National Park was amazing, and I enjoyed fishing in the Devil’s Lake area in the northeast corner of the state. Horseback riding sounds like a great way to experience the state.

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