Sparsely populated and the number one producer of honey in the nation, visitors are drawn to North Dakota (although not in huge numbers like some other states) for an authentic slice of rural life.
Here endless fields of grain stretch on for miles broken only by farmhouses or tumbledown homesteads, that is until you reach the very unique Badlands. There are also some other pretty special spots too…here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in North Dakota…
1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Badlands Overlook – one of the most beautiful places to explore in North Dakota
Visited by thousands of people every year, this park located in the western part of the state is quite famous, and if you visit there just once, you’ll understand why.
The painted canyons are beyond mesmerizing, and regardless of where you go, you’ll notice the beauty and natural wonders of the area.
Besides that, you can also enjoy fields of bison and horses in certain areas, which provide a lot of interesting views and activities. It’s a great place to take your family because you’ll never be bored regardless of how long you stay there.
Head for the Badlands Overlook located on the Scenic Loop Drive South Unit, for extraordinary views and great photo opportunities.
2. Medora – a charming tourist town and gateway to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park
This little gem is a charming historic town, gateway to the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the North Dakota Badlands, and a tourist hub.
It’s a great place to stop for a while before heading to explore the town’s attractions, before heading out to either nearby Little Missouri National Grassland or Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
3. Beaver Lake State Park – gently rolling prairies and gorgeous scenic views
Located close to Wishek, this park is nothing short of amazing with its beautiful waters and its walking and hiking trails. You can sunbathe and work on your tan, jump in the water and take a swim to cool off, or go hiking and view the beauty of the area.
People who love the great outdoors love this park because it truly offers something for everyone and because it is one of the most beautiful areas in the entire state.
It also has a lot of trees and acreage, so you’ll never experience the same thing twice when you go there.
4. Chase Lake National Wildlife Reserve – one of the nation’s oldest refuges and
The Chase Lake National Wildlife Reserve is actually two lakes located near the city of Medina, and if you visit here during certain times of the year, you’ll see thousands of birds that are there to nest, including white pelicans and many others.
If you’re a bird-lover, this is the place for you, but don’t overlook the lakes, either, because they are nothing short of stunning. In fact, the entire reserve is so extraordinary that pictures do it no justice.
Instead, you really have to see it in person to truly appreciate it. It is truly one of the best places to visit in North Dakota.
5. Cross Ranch State Park – a popular beauty spot to explore in North Dakota
Located near Hensler on the iconic Missouri River, Cross Ranch State Park is unspoiled territory and therefore a great place to see all types of wildlife.
This includes deer, bison, and lots of fascinating birds, as well as some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever enjoyed.
If you love natural areas filled with trees, water, and animals, this is the place for you. In fact, you never know what you’re going to run into when you visit the park, but one thing is certain – you’ll come back home with lots of memories of this place.
6. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park – the oldest state park in North Dakota
Located near the city of Mandan, the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park has a very well-preserved history and provides you with lots of things to see and do, starting with the fort itself.
But the fort isn’t the only interesting part of the park because it also provides you with a beautiful village that sits right on the river, lots of walking and hiking trails, and even a trolley ride – the only one in the state.
Whether you’re a history buff or just want to do something unique and different, this is a place you must visit.
7. Fort Ransom State Park – a beautiful under-the-radar gem
Fort Ransom is an adorable little town that includes the Sheyenne River, and that is where the state park is located.
With gorgeous rolling hills and some hidden meadows, not to mention a lot of trees, Fort Ransom State Park boasts campgrounds, cabins, yurts, and hiking trails, so you’ll never run out of things to do when you visit it.
You can walk the trails, stay overnight, and just sit back, relax, and enjoy the many beautiful views that this area of the state has to offer.
8. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Park – a unique and interesting historic attraction to explore in North Dakota
This park is located near Stanton, which is where the Mandan and Hidatsa Indian tribes once were located.
The entire park is dedicated to the Native American culture in an attempt to preserve their traditions, which is why it consists of a museum, hiking trail, earth lodge, and a whole lot more.
The museum alone contains artifacts, cultural emblems, and hundreds of relics that are all unique to the Native American people, so if you want to explore their culture and learn more about them, this is the place you want to be.
9. Sully’s Hill National Game Preserve – a stunning place to explore filled with wildlife
Right on the edge of Devil’s Lake, which is North Dakota’s largest natural lake, sits Sully’s Hill, a preserved area that you will never forget after seeing it.
Beautiful green grass and lots of trees line a hiking trail that is stunning, and when you get to the end of that trail, you’ll get a second-to-none view of the lake like few people get to see it.
It is not as modernized as some hiking trails are, meaning no concrete or bright lights, so you’ll be able to enjoy natural surroundings in which to hike and get some fresh air.
10. Lake Metigoshe – one of the most popular year-round vacation spots in North Dakota
The word “breathtaking” is perfect when used to describe this lake, which is nothing short of stunning. Located near the Turtle Mountains, Lake Metigoshe is one of the most popular attractions in the entire state.
With ponds and creeks that highlight the magnificent lake itself, it feels like some type of forest you read about in fairy tales, which makes it a unique destination indeed.
In the fall, the place really comes alive because the bright-colored leaves will reflect off of the water and create a truly amazing view that everyone will enjoy.
11. Lake Sakakawea – one of the best places to visit in North Dakota for outdoor recreational activities
Lake Sakakawea is North Dakota’s largest manmade lake and offers tons of things outdoorsy people like the best – things to do and gorgeous views.
It is such a large lake that you can see it when you visit Fort Stevenson State Park, the Lewis and Clark State Park, and of course, Lake Sakakawea State Park.
If you like the rough-and-ready look, this is the area for you because it looks just like Wilderness 101, which is a good thing for people who love the outdoors and all of its natural perks. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places to visit in North Dakota.
12. Maah Daah Hey Trail – crosses over some most unique and breathtaking terrain in the US
It’s an unusual name but an absolutely stunning place. Avid outdoors people know about this place, but few others do. The trail itself is 140 miles long and is visited by hikers, walkers, and bikers, every single day of the year.
With magnificent landscapes and some of the most gorgeous views you’ve likely ever seen, the trail is great for both beginners and more experienced hikers.
This means that you can visit the Maah Daah Hey trail regardless of your level of experience and still have an amazing time, not to mention bring home lots of memories when you leave.
13. Pembina Gorge – a top destination for adventure seekers in North Dakota
Located near Walhalla, Pembina Gorge is one of the best places to visit when you want to see the changing colors of the leaves in the fall.
In fact, fall-lovers should consider it mandatory to visit this place each year because there are so many trees that you won’t want to miss any of the amazing colors you’ll see when you visit.
If you’re an artist, bring your paintbrush and draw some of what you see, although to be fair, you won’t be able to capture the beauty of this place with a drawing board and a brush.
14. Plains Art Museum – features regional Native American, folk and contemporary art
Located in Fargo, this museum offers both contemporary art that highlights the amazing North Dakotan culture and traditional art by Native Americans. There is also a great collection of folk art, so this is an eclectic museum that truly offers something for everyone.
It is also housed in a stunning building that is home to many exhibitions and other events all throughout the year, and its gardens are definitely something you should check out, even if you’re not that into art.
This should definitely be on your must-see list when you visit Fargo. This is definitely one of the most interesting places to visit in North Dakota.
15. Scandinavian Heritage Park – a magical and informative place to visit in North Dakota
When you’re visiting Minot and you’re of Scandinavian descent, this is one place you have to visit. Even the building that greets you is an architectural wonder.
Mostly an outdoor museum, you can view replicas of statues, buildings, and art found in countries such as Norway, Denmark, Finland, and others.
Also included are a Danish windmill and a Finnish sauna, and when you visit there, it will feel exactly like you’re visiting another country. Two of the most amazing attractions include an 18th century home transported here from Sigdal and a replica of the Gol Slave church.
16. Chautauqua Park – an iconic historic landmark to visit in North Dakota
Located in Valley City, one of the most interesting parts of this park is the bridge, which has broken records with its length. The scenic riverfront offers beautiful views and a great view of the bridge, known as the Hi-Line railroad bridge.
You can stop and have a picnic with your family or just enjoy all of the beauty around you.
Whatever you decide to do, it won’t be a waste of your time because the park truly offers something for everyone regardless of your interests.
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Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland, UK and the US but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and great football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @scottbalaam