Summer has officially arrived across the USA and it’s about time you start planning your vacation. Forget the expensive airfare to Europe and the crowded beaches along the East Coast. This summer, you should consider hitting the road and going on an adventure in North Dakota.
It’s likely that you do not have North Dakota on your list of places to go for an epic outdoor adventure. Which is too bad, because this state is jam packed with activities for you.
It might surprise you to learn that North Dakota aka the ‘Peace Garden State’ is more than just an endless prairie! It has three major geographic regions; each with unique adventures to discover.
The rock formations of the Badlands will amaze you. The vastness of the Great Plains will leave you in awe. You’ll love the rivers and lakes of the Red River Valley. And will probably be a bit surprised at the hills in the Missouri Plateau and Drift Prairie.
Sure, you can pack up the car and take a road trip through North Dakota. You’ll have a pleasant enough time seeing the greatness of this state from the inside of a car. But if you’re reading this, chances are you don’t just want to see this state, you want to experience it.
You want to climb, bike, run, swim, and ride. You want to play cowboy and follow the route of Lewis and Clark. You need outdoor adventures that will amp up your North Dakota vacation. Here are six of them.
1. Mountain Bike the Maah Daah Hey TrailIt’s a 144 mile trail, and recognized as the longest single track trail in the US. You’ll ride past gullies, onto high plateaus, and across prairies. There are some taxing climbs and long descents, as well as chances to get close to wildlife (eagles, bison, coyotes, deer).
The scenery is gorgeous, the mountain biking is world class and the adventure is most definitely epic. Bike part of it for a day trip or make it a multi-day excursion. There are camp sites every 18 miles.
**Mountain Biking not your thing? Hike it!
2. Hike White Butte – North Dakota’s Highest Peak
Rising to 3,507 feet above sea level, White Butte is where you want to go to say you reached North Dakota’s highest point. A butte is not actually a mountain, but a landform with steep sides and a flat top (smaller than a mesa). It’s not a long hike, just one mile up the ridge-line. The top will give you sweeping views of the flat land surrounding the butte. Follow these directions to get there.
3. Visit North Dakota’s Only Waterfall
Sheyenne State Forest is where you will find the only natural waterfall in North Dakota – Mineral Springs Waterfall. Spend the day hiking through the forest along the Sheyenne River Valley. After 4.4 miles of walking, you will make it to the waterfall.
The Little Missouri River winds its way from the north of Wyoming all the way to the Missouri River. Carving it’s way through the Badlands and through remote terrain. A kayak or canoe trip along this river will take 5 days if you do the entire 107 miles. It’s best done from late spring to midsummer when the water levels are ideal. If you want to take this trip on your own, this website will help you plan the trip.
You probably don’t immediately associate North Dakota with water. Which makes sense since it is in the middle of the US and only 2.4% of the state is covered in water! However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anywhere to go to cool off. Devils Lake is the largest natural lake in the state. It has just about every kind of water activity for those of us that love the outdoors. Fishing, boating, jet skiing and swimming are all things to do at this lake.
How does camping with wild bison sound? At Cottonwood Campground in TR Park you may wake up and find these beautiful creatures outside your tent. The park has some fabulous hiking trails that allow you to view spectacular wildlife and also explore the rugged landscape of the badlands.
Are you ready to get yourself to North Dakota now? Or have you been already? Share your experience with us!
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*This post is brought to you by North Dakota Tourism. All opinions and thoughts are my own.