Legendary Road Trips in North Dakota
It’s always road trip season in North Dakota! Visitors can enjoy uncrowded wide-open spaces, snap pictures by quirky roadside attractions and create legendary new memories. You’ll find lodging, dining and incredible experiences that are affordable, welcoming and ready when you are. Planning a Legendary Road Trip in North Dakota is just the thing we need to look forward to this year.
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10 Legendary Road Trips
From awe-inspiring landscapes to quirky roadside attractions and immersive cultural attractions North Dakota was made for road trips. We’re highlighting 10 of North Dakota’s most Legendary Road Trips experiences below. Ready for your next escape? Don’t miss this chance to hit the open roads of North Dakota.
Fields of Sunflowers - North Dakota raises nearly 40 percent of all sunflowers in the United States so it’s no wonder this off-the-beaten-path destination is home to a plethora of beautiful family run fields. The stunning fields of sunflowers reach their peak in August with thousands of acres in picture-perfect condition. The brilliant yellow fields are a sought-after backdrop for social media photos and take center stage in landscape photography. For more on planning your trip to the sunshine-hued fields, check out our guide here.
Catch your Breath on the Maah Daah Hey Trail - Designated an EPIC trail by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the Maah Daah Hey Trail will leave you breathless with jagged peaks and challenging terrain not to mention majestic views of the North Dakota Badlands. With 144 miles of rugged single-track trail and traversing all three units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Maah Daah Hey is worthy of its own road trip for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. Spend your road trip on the trail itself or stop in nearby Medora or Dickinson to round out your trip.
Bad to the Bone - Dinosaur enthusiasts will love this family oriented trip to discover the nation’s prehistoric past. Roadtrippers can join the North Dakota Geological Survey on a expert-led paleontology fossil dig to discover dinosaurs, sea creatures, early mammals and more. Then hit the road to enjoy North Dakota’s “Great Eight” dinosaur and fossil attractions. Museums across the state present fossils that could easily rival national collections.
Traverse Trails – Start this Legendary experience at the iconic Theodore Roosevelt National Park to fully immerse yourself in the one-of-a-kind terrain that mesmerized our nation’s “conservation president.” Follow up with a visit to the old western town of Medora, where Teddy Roosevelt once wore the boots of a deputy sheriff, to catch the outdoor Medora Musical complete with a Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner on a terrace overlooking the majestic North Dakota Badlands. After Medora, head east along I-94 to explore even more Legendary parks including North Dakota’s oldest state park, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Next, head northbound to traverse the shoreline of Lake Sakakawea at Fort Stevenson State Park.
Find “North of Normal” in Fargo – Fargo, known for being a bit “North of Normal,” bustles with the energy of a vibrant downtown several times its size. Part college town with North Dakota State University and part agricultural hub, Fargo boasts an unexpected burgeoning art and culture scene. Visitors can fill a multi-day trip taking in the art galleries, theatres and heritage centers; browse to their heart’s content at eclectic boutiques and antique shops; dig in to great grub at local restaurants and wash it all down with brews that will have you coming back for more. And, yes, there’s the famous woodchipper from the Coen brothers’ cult classic film Fargo, but we promise there’s so much more to explore in Fargo.
Native American Cultural Immersion - Where better to immerse yourself in Native American culture than the former home of Sakakawea (Sacagawea) and see the remains of three Hidatsa villages during a visit to the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site where Native Americans lived for more than 11,000 years. Journey on to be the guest of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation near New Town and the three tribes of the Upper Missouri River Valley--the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes. And experience the living histories of the Great MHA Nation at the new MHA Interpretive Center in New Town.
Peaceful, Scenic Getaway – You and your family will have the ultimate family getaway at one of North America’s most symbolic and scenic locations – the beautiful International Peace Garden. Nestled in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota and Manitoba, the park was created as a tribute to peace and friendship between the people of the U.S. and Canada – here you’ll find the perfect place to celebrate family re-uniting. Don’t miss the stunning landscape driving along the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway. For a fun roadside stop, check out Tommy the Turtle in Bottineau, the World’s largest snowmobiling turtle, and W'eel Turtle in Dunseith, the World’s largest turtle made of tire rims.
Starry Nights – Experience not only some of the darkest skies in the U.S. but some of the nation’s best views of the spectacular aurora borealis also known as Northern Lights. Camp under the stars at Lake Metigoshe State Park in Bottineau and stop at the Northern Lights Tower and Interpretive Center dedicated to the dancing night skies in Rugby. For more on catching this bucket-list phenomenon during your road trip, check out our Northern Lights Guide.
Hit the Links – North Dakota natives love to golf year-round and with more golf courses per capita than any other state it’s easy to understand why. Grab your clubs and set off for a Legendary golf trip with stops at award-winning courses throughout state – The Links of North Dakota, Hawktree Golf Club and, of course, Medora’s Bully Pulpit Golf Course, which is built into the North Dakota Badlands. Bully Pulpit’s signature holes (14, 15 and 16), “The Badlands Holes,” take golfers through a rugged fairway gorge and offer exceptionally stunning views. Golf Digest named the course one of “America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses.” Want to take a few practice putts? Head to Point to Point Park to play a round of mini golf at Little Bully Pulpit.
Hook to Table Ice Fishing – This Legendary adventure features jumbo Perch, trophy Walleye and monster Pike with one of North Dakota’s most iconic winter adventures – ice fishing. Bundle up and head out on a two-day ice fishing excursion at the Woodland Resort in Devils Lake where some of the best crews in North Dakota keep the fish houses on the best bite. Don’t miss the opportunity to team up with Perch Patrol for a guided fishing experience designed to suit your needs.
A Legendary Playlist
For planning inspiration and while you hit the road in North Dakota, we’ve created a Legendary Road Trip playlist. Listen to music from North Dakota artists, performers coming to our concert venues and other tracks to set the tone for your road trip here.
More tips and ideas for your Legendary Road Trip
Looking for the inside scoop on planning your next North Dakota Road Trip? Check out what some of our Legendary trip experts had to share!
- Fred, Host of The Fred Show on Chicago’s KISS FM chats with Element’s Tanner Tweten about what to see, do, eat and drink in Fargo.
- Mike Jensen with North Dakota Tourism fills Fred in on great outdoor and dinosaur experiences throughout the state.
- Becky Barnes, a paleontologist with the North Dakota Geological Survey, talks with Jeff Olsen at KOOL 108 in Minneapolis about all things dinosaurs and digs in North Dakota.
- Jeff hears more from Mike Jensen at North Dakota Tourism about getting outdoors in North Dakota.
- Tanner Tweten with Element hotel tells Falen with the Dave Ryan Show on 101.3 in Minneapolis how to find Fargo’s “North of Normal”.
- Nick Ybarra with Legendary Adventures New Discoveries shares all the ins and outs of the Maah Daah Hey Trail with Falen.
- Melissa Forman at 93.9 LITE FM in Chicago connects with Johannes Olwage, the director of horticulture at North Dakota’s International Peace Garden, on what makes the gardens Legendary.
- Zippy Dahl with Perch Patrol shares the best fishing spots in North Dakota with Melissa.