Bid farewell to traffic snarls and long queues at tourist hotspots, and embark on a truly immersive journey. With a year-round itinerary brimming with endless possibilities, North Dakota offers a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Discover hidden gems, embark on exciting adventures, and indulge in a relaxed pace of exploration, all without compromising on enriching experiences. Leave the crowds behind as you immerse yourself in the authentic essence of North Dakota's small towns, where tranquility, natural beauty, and captivating activities await your arrival.
01 Bottineau is the place to relax
Often called a "four seasons playground," Bottineau lives up to its nickname no matter when you visit. Travelers are greeted by the 30-foot Tommy the Turtle statue on a snowmobile. Plenty of action-packed activities, such as the 7,500-acre Turtle Mountain State Forest, keep visitors engaged. For a more relaxing day, take a spin on the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway via Highway 43. When the snow has fallen, strap on your skis and take on the challenge of the Bottineau Winter Park resort.
02 Devils Lake offers outdoor activities
Devils Lake, founded in 1882, has plenty of choices in outdoor activities, such as fishing and boating. Explore the area with a backcountry hike or hang-10 on a climbing expedition. Grahams Island State Park provides more outdoor recreation in warm weather and cross-country skiing in the winter. After a day of entertainment, cool off at the Ruger Park swimming pool, visit the Lake Region Heritage Center Museum, or relax at the Fort Totten Little Theatre.
03 Edgeley delights with small-town charm
Rural Edgeley is known as the "gateway to wind energy," where wind turbines stand tall over fields of farmland. The small-town vibe is big on community favorites like the old-fashioned burger and ice cream shop, local bars, cafes, and creative murals depicting the turbines. Accommodations include the Prairie Rose Inn or pitching a tent at the Edgeley Campground. Unwind with a round of golf at Splickan Country Club and Golf Course, cool off in the Edgeley Park pool, or step back in time at Whitestone Hill State Historic Site.
04 Fort Ransom holds visitors' attention
Visitors to Fort Ransom get a double dose of natural beauty while driving along the Sheyenne River National Scenic Byway near the 950-acre Fort Ransom State Park. At the park, you can camp in a luxury yurt, visit the Sunne Farm, canoe or kayak the Sheyenne River, and observe a variety of wildlife. Things to do in the town include Fort Ransom State Historic Site, the Ransom County Society Museum, and the Sheyenne River State Park.
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05 Garrison's traditions abound around town
Fort Stevenson State Park is one of Garrison's most popular destinations for outdoor activities. You can learn about Garrison's history and traditions at the Heritage Park and Museum and the Fort Stevenson Guardhouse Interpretive Center. Don't forget to "reel in" some fun facts at the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame, cruise the Garrison Ice Skating Rink, and see the 15-foot Big Gene sculpture at Garrison Golf Course.
06 Hatton takes you up, up, and away
If you're looking for a cozy place to park an RV, head to Hatton and the Hatton Park Board Campground. The Hatton-Eielson Museum is a Queen Anne-style home built in 1900 and was the childhood home of Carl Ben Eielson, who grew up to become a pilot and an important figure in aviation history. Eielson's Fokker airplane now resides on the property.
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07 Hillsboro has been newsworthy since 1880
Hillsboro has the state's oldest weekly newspaper, the Hillsboro Banner, which began in 1880 and still pumps out the news today. The town has the Pioneer Museum, Woodland Park, the 1807 Plummer House, and the Caledonia Bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Start your day at the Hillsboro Cafe, then step back in time with a visit to the beautifully detailed 1905 Traill County Courthouse.
08 Jamestown is known for its love of buffalo
Jamestown is known as the "pride of the prairie," where you'll see a 26-foot sculpture of the World's Largest Buffalo. Visit the National Buffalo Museum to explore the history of the town and this impressive animal. You can also find interesting exhibits at Fort Seward Military Post, Stutsman County Memorial Museum, and the Sports Hall of Fame. Walk along the trail Western author Louis L'Amour traveled, and have fun at the Jamestown Reservoir swimming, picnicking, hiking, fishing, and playing disc golf.
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09 Jud's artistic murals are a must-see
Bring your camera and take pictures of the resident-inspired murals located throughout the small town of Jud. The tiny village has made a name for itself due to the artistic endeavors of local residents. The area is known for its multiple nature preserves for waterfowl, such as the Bone Hill Creek National Wildlife Reserve, which was established in 1939 by an executive order signed by President Roosevelt. The refuge provides safe habitats and breeding grounds for waterfowl and other birds.
10 Lisbon is the gateway to several parks
Situated in the scenic Sheyenne River Valley, Lisbon entices visitors to stay a while to enjoy its tall grass and open prairie landscapes. An active downtown scene features various dining menus, shopping venues, and shows at the Scenic Theater, which was established in 1911. For outdoor excursions, including hiking and horseback riding, visit Sheyenne National Grasslands or Sandager Park.
11 Medora takes you back to the old west
Medora is the gateway to the southern portion of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Located in the Badlands, Medora brings to life the Old West with tours and stagecoach rides amid an atmosphere of Western charm. You can also visit the Maltese Cross Cabin, where Roosevelt stayed while traveling here. Plan your stay during annual events, such as the Medora Hot Air Balloon Rally and Kite Festival, to get the most out of your trip.
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12 New Salem offers hospitality on a grand scale
New Salem is a small community, but one with a big heart. Hospitality abounds, making the town an ideal stop-over for a rest at the Neidhardt RV Park, the North Park Campground, or the Arrowhead Inn. There's golf at Red Trail Links, fishing at Fish Creek Dam, and history at Custer Trail Museum. A focal point is Salem Sue, the world's largest fiberglass cow at 38 feet high and 50 feet long.
13 Valley City takes you on a scenic drive
Another opportunity to travel along the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway is on your way to Valley City. For those with an interest in bridges, Valley City is known for the many bridges crossing the Sheyenne River. The historic Hi-Line Railroad Bridge is one of the highest and longest single-track bridges in the U.S. Afterwards, cool off with a dip in Lake Ashtabula, or stop by Medicine Wheel Park to see the unique landmark.
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14 Walhalla features unlimited access to natural beauty
While visiting Walhalla, spend time at the 1840s Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site, Tetrault Woods State Park, and Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area. Year-round activities in these scenic spots include hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. When it's time to relax, kick back at Sporty's Bar or Charley B's Classic Grill and Ice Cream Parlour.
15 Wilton has something for everyone
Wilton provides access to acres of parkland and campgrounds, as well as local eateries and bars. Visit the Little Missouri State Park and Cross Ranch State Park for nature outings, or stop by the North Dakota Heritage Center or the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center for a history lesson. Fuel up and enjoy live music at the Laughing Sun Brewery in Bismarck before heading to Hawktree Golf Club to swing into action on the greens.