North Dakota is massive and there’s so much to explore making it almost impossible to visit most of the attractions. Luckily, with a road trip, you stand a chance to see as many of these attractions as possible. We have compiled a sampling of some of the top North Dakota road trip destinations, to make it easier for you to plan your trip.
The state is rich in diversity when it comes to the things you can see and do here. Think of free attractions in North Dakota, classic airplanes, serene state parks, forts, the cultural history of Native Americans, or anything else that can hit a road-tripping buff’s mind is all here. We have created the sou-satisfying itinerary just for you. With our recommendations, you get the chance to see the state to the fullest. Let’s get started without further ado.
Already itching to hit the road and do some eyeballing? Check out the slides below for top North Dakota road trip destinations:
- North Dakota Road Trip: State Capitol Building
- North Dakota Heritage Center, Bismarck
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park
- The National Buffalo Museum and Frontier Village
- On A Slant Indian Village
- Maah Daah Hey Trail
- Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
- Plains Art Museum
- Scandinavian Heritage Park
- Lake Sakakawea
- Wrapping Up ND’s Top Spots
North Dakota Road Trip: State Capitol Building
Built during the era of the Great Depression in the mid 1930s, the State Capitol building of North Dakota is a definition of art beauty at its best. The building features a skyscraper tower which serves as a historic landmark.
The State Capitol building has an observation deck on its 18th floor, which offers scenic views over the city of Bismarck. Rough Rider Hall of Fame at the building’s ground floor pays tribute to people who have made significant contributions to the state. North Dakota State Capitol Building is a replacement of the original building which succumbed to fire in 1930. The building is available for guided tours by the public every day of the week at 9 am, 11 am, and 3 pm.
North Dakota Heritage Center, Bismarck
If you’d like to learn a little bit about the rich history of North Dakota, one of the places you must visit is the North Dakota Heritage Center. It’s full of permanent collections of the historical society of the state.
The center highlights virtually everything, from the prehistoric times up to the 20th century, presenting a pleasant overview of the state. It also features temporary displays so you wouldn’t miss something interesting anytime you visit.
Within the heritage center, Northern Lights Atrium stands high with fascination due to the masterpiece portrayed in its architecture. The Capitol Arboretum Trail presents a good hiking trail, winding its way through the property just outside the heritage center.
Apart from the galleries, there are educational programs accessible to the public also offered at the Heritage Center. Head to James River Café and enjoy the sumptuous delicacies during your visit to the Heritage Center.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
If preparing a list of the top highlights in North Dakota, you wouldn’t want to leave out Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park was named after the 26th President of the US, who was also a rancher and a naturalist. The park encompasses the same acreage that once charmed Roosevelt himself.
Winding its way through the park’s Badlands and rolling hills is the Little Missouri River, which boasts lots of attractions and outdoor adventure. Visitors are always encouraged by the park’s management to camp, hike, or drive across the park to view the beautiful scenery and appreciate the magnificence present here.
Geographically, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is separated into the Northern and Southern units. It also features an extra Elkhorn Ranch Unit which is the grounds where Roosevelt used to spend most of his time. The biggest attention-grabber in both the north and south units include selected scenic drives and hiking trails.
You don’t have to be limited to those though as the park is full of other attractions and activities to indulge in. You can visit the Painted Canyon Visitor Center found in the park’s South Unit, where you’ll have access to bountiful information about the park’s early days.
The National Buffalo Museum and Frontier Village
From afar, the largest, although concrete, bison is visible at Bison Monument and at I-94 in Frontier Village by Jamestown lying between Fargo and Bismarck. At its feet, there are living contemporaries grazing; among them include the albino bison, one of the rarest.
At this site, there’s also the National Buffalo Museum which offers a lot of insight into the great beasts known to have roamed across American West. At Frontier Village, you’ll also come across a collection of early pioneer buildings that house a church, barbershop, drugstore, schoolhouse, post office, jailhouse, and many more.
During summer, you can tour all historic sites found in Frontier Village, enjoy pony and stagecoach rides, and be part of the old school soda fountain.
On A Slant Indian Village
Just after exiting Jamestown, drive to the west till you arrive at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park located in Mandan. Just a stone’s throw away from Bismarck, this state park used to be a military post, before that it served as the home to the Mandan Indian people.
Just adjacent to the On-A-Slant Indian Village, there are Mandan Indians’ earth lodges reconstructed to serve as attraction sites. Take the opportunity to walk through these dwellings and experience what it felt like to live inside these Mandan Indian houses.
Maah Daah Hey Trail
Any avid outdoor buff will appreciate the magnificence of this place as it’s known as the best-kept secret of North Dakota. Covering an area of over 140 miles, Maah Daah Hey Trail spans iconic landscapes of the state and attracts a plethora of outdoor enthusiasts including horseback riders, bikers, and hikers.
Maah Daah Hey Trail spans the beautiful landscapes of the state such as the Little Missouri River Valley, sections of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and Badlands. In about 10 days, highly determined trail travelers can tour the whole route plus different trailheads available in this area.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
This historic site is located just near Stanton and used to be the camping ground for the Hidatsa and Mandan Indians. Several Indian villages have been reconstructed here to preserve the rich culture of the natives.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site has several things to indulge in, including checking out the beautiful relics and artifacts at the museum. You’ll also get to see some of the most important cultural emblems of Native Americans who once lived in the area. Visitors also get to hike the Village Trail, view the rebuilt earth lodge, and trek through the different trails winding through the picturesque landscape.
Immerse yourself into outdoor activities at Knife River Indian Villages which are available throughout the year and include craft shows, games, ceremonies, and festivals all of which reanimate the historic site.
Plains Art Museum
The museum houses one of the most impressive art collections from national and regional artists. Plains Art Museum, located in the Fargo downtown district, offers amazing exhibits featuring contemporary artworks as well as those from Native Americans.
Throughout the year, the museum showcases different exhibitions in its space spanning an area of 56,000 square feet, so be sure to find different exhibits every time you visit. There are family and youth programs offered at the museum. Adults also get to partake in activities at the adult workshops.
Other attractions displayed at the museum include different public gardens and art forms around the city which enhance tourist visits to Fargo. These include the Sodbuster sculpture found downtown. This is a nice road trip suitable for families and any art buff will be fascinated by the artwork showcased at the museum.
Scandinavian Heritage Park is an embodiment of beauty situated in Minot and presents a unique view of the Scandinavian culture evident in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland.
This Heritage Park also features various replica buildings, cultural points, and statues worth exploring. Some of the visitor favorites here include the Gol Stave Church replica, 25 feet Swedish Dala horse, and an 18th-century Sigdal home. Other popular spots worth visiting at the ground include the replicas of Danish windmill and Finnish sauna, which are favorites among the Scandinavian culture enthusiasts and photographers.
This is a beautiful spot with scenic views and a must-visit for outdoor adventure buffs looking to explore and discover what their tolerance levels are when it comes to intensive outdoors. Lake Sakakawea is located in North Dakota’s west-central part and is the largest reservoir in the state, having a shoreline of over 1,500 miles in length.
This is a top spot if you’re looking to engage in serious outdoor fun activities such as kayaking, sailing, motorboating. Also, there are excellent fishing opportunities offered at the lake all year long. At the shores of Lake Sakakawea, there are 2 state parks: Lake Sakakawea and Fort Stevenson State Park. You’ll get to enjoy diverse overnight options at both parks as they are both equipped with modern campgrounds, access to amenities, and public access to boat and dock rentals.
These were some of the top North Dakota road trip destinations, however, as you explore the state, you will come across many more places. ND is one of the best places for a road trip and you will never run out of great fun opportunities here.
Wrapping Up ND’s Top Spots
North Dakota has many more attractions that outdoor enthusiasts will love. The scenic views, historic sites, and rich history of Native Americans are just some of the things you’ll enjoy here. Just equip yourself with an HD camera to capture those beautiful moments and attractions to keep the North Dakota road trip memories alive for a lifetime.
Now that you know about the top Norht Dakota road trip destinations, do check out some of the most affordable activities of the state in our dedicated sampling. When you are allset to head to ND, we can also help you out in picking the top vacation rentals and holiday accommodations. Browse our platform Rental Trader to find out some amazing properties that suit your needs and fit your budget. For more iinformation, fill our web form or give us a call.