Overview

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park © Michael Oswald

North Dakota has a captivating history featuring some of America's greatest leaders, adventurers, and warriors. At its many preserved forts, visitors discover the stories of Native Americans led by Sitting Bull, fighting to preserve the plains culture, as well as tales of soldiers who manned lonely outposts.

History buffs can retrace Lewis and Clark's journey along the Missouri River, beginning at Fort Mandan, where their expedition acquired as a member Sacagawea, also known as Sakakawea, one of the most famous North Dakotans.

Today, North Dakota has one of the highest populations of Native Americans in the country. Their reservations are rich cultural destinations, with traditional powwows held throughout the year. Its heritage also encompasses the traditions of Scandinavia and Germany, the homelands of many of the state's original pioneers.

North Dakota's pristine land seems to stretch forever, with immigrants surely lured by the same vista that tempts today's athletes and outdoorsman. One of the best places to experience the state's natural beauty is in the Badlands of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in western North Dakota.

Roosevelt was a rancher here for a time, and his memories of North Dakota would later fuel his passion for conservation. Visitors to the stark cliffs and buttes of the Badlands can camp, view species like bison and elk, or bike the Maah Daah Hey Trail. Lake Sacajawea is another scenic spot, so expansive it can accommodate sailors as well as avid sport fishermen.

Winters this far north can seem formidable. North Dakota looks stunning lightly blanketed by pure-white snow, and the snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing is unparalleled.

In the summer, the 2,339-acre (946 ha) International Peace Garden is a serene place to visit. Situated on the world's longest unfortified border between the United States and Canada, it is a symbol of peace and friendship.

Though many may be surprised to hear it, North Dakota does have more to offer than history and the great outdoors. The Indian reservations, reservoirs of cultural knowledge, are also home to a number of glitzy casinos.

Fargo and Grand Forks are college towns, complete with arts scenes, bars, and clubs. Grand Forks is home to University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux ice hockey team, the state's major sports competitor.

The Enchanted Highway is the most unusual attraction in North Dakota. It's a 32-mile (52km) stretch of lonely road, erected along which are the world's largest metal sculptures that capture the surprising quirks waiting to charm visitors to North Dakota.

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