Rendezvous Region Scenic Backway
Dotted with dense forests, magnificent overlooks and expansive recreation areas, the Rendezvous Region Scenic Backway in northeast North Dakota offers nature lovers plenty of opportunities to enjoy and explore the outdoors. Starting on Highway 55 near Vang and sloping southeast to Highway 5 and ending in Cavalier, this backway offers opportunities to experience all four seasons.
During winter months, be sure to spend a day at Frost Fire Ski & Snowboard Area (closed for 2022/23 season for repairs), where you can ski or snowboard down powdery runs and take in dramatic views of the Pembina River Gorge. Meanwhile, families can enjoy the excitement of zooming down groomed trails on the snow-tubing hill. During the summertime, the Frost Fire Summer Theatre offers classic musical productions for the whole family and the mountain bike terrain park provides thrills for the more adventurous.
The nearby Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area is a playground in all seasons. Explore the latticework of trails on horseback, foot, mountain bikes or all-terrain vehicles, or in the winter, take to snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The Pembina River Trail is an ideal spot to paddle along in a canoe or kayak. Birdwatchers can discover more than 75 species of breeding birds in the Pembina Gorge, and other wildlife includes mountain lions, bears, elk, and bobcats. This area also offers hunting and fishing.
In the picturesque town of Walhalla, take in dramatic views of the Pembina River and Pembina Gorge from the Masonic Scenic Overlook, which offers an ideal vantage point during spring and fall months. Or, venture into Tetrault Woods State Forest, a 420-acre undeveloped expanse of woods, where you can hike along peaceful trails, ride horses, backcountry camp and much more.
For campsites with modern amenities such as showers and electricity, continue along the backway to Icelandic State Park, located along the northern shore of Lake Renwick. Enjoy a leisurely picnic for the afternoon, or spend a couple days boating on the lake or exploring the 200-acre nature preserve. Or, glimpse into North Dakota’s pioneering days with a visit to the Pioneer Heritage Center, with its restored historic buildings and Gunlogson Homestead.
At the end of the backway, spend a night in “The Friendly City” of Cavalier, where you can take your pick from rustic lodges or quaint bed and breakfasts. The city park also offers a family-friendly place to enjoy sand volleyball, tennis, disc golf and more.