As one of the most sparsely populated states, North Dakota is the least visited state in the country. What’s surprising is how much one might miss out on if they don’t pay this state of natural wonders a visit. North Dakota is known for its stunning natural beauty and it has also played a vital role in American history, which remains today in many historic sites.
The most popular tourist attractions in North Dakota are the state and national parks, and anywhere that allows visitors to explore the natural beauty of the state. Learning about the history of present and past Native American tribes in North Dakota is a visitor favorite as well.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
In the badlands region of North Dakota, you’ll find the 110 square mile Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park’s North and South Units each have scenic driving routes as well as several natural and historical attractions. There are more than 100 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding within in the park in addition to campgrounds and back country camping sites.
Popular activities in the park include hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. The park is home to many species of Great Plains wildlife including bison, feral horses, elk bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer, prairie dogs, and more than 186 species of birds.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
The Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site was created in order to preserve areas inhabited by the Northern Plains Indians. The historic site is on the location of where three villages once stood, known as the Hidatsa villages.
Visitors to this major Native American trade center can explore the museum to learn about the history of the villages, view the full-scale reconstruction of the Earthlodge, walk through the Hidatsa garden, and walk the trails to explore all three village sites.
Dakota Dinosaur Museum
The city of Dickinson, North Dakota is home to the Dakota Dinosaur Museum, one of the state’s most fascinating attractions. The museum contains replicas of dinosaurs made by artists. The museum also contains temporary exhibits on various prehistoric subjects, as well as exhibits featuring fossils and other paleontological specimens. Some of the popular attractions at the museum are the 37 foot tall Allosaurus skeleton and the Triceratops which guards the front door.
North Dakota Heritage Center
For a peek into the fascinating history of North Dakota, visit the North Dakota Heritage center, the state’s official history museum, which is located on the North Dakota State Capitol grounds in Bismarck. The museum’s permanent collection contains historic photographs and artifacts connected to the USS North Dakota battleship as well as exhibits relating to the states ancient geological past, the Early Peoples of North Dakota, and modern and recent times.
Fargo Air Museum
The Fargo Air Museum is an aviation related museum in Fargo, North Dakota. It is located at Hector International Airport in the northern part of the city. The museum includes many historic aircraft of which 90% are in flying condition. Fargo Air Museum also houses one of the Midwest’s largest Aviation libraries. In addition, the museum hosts educational day-camps, speakers and seminars for flight fans. The museum also is home to an extensive gift shop.
Top Things to Do in North Dakota
National Buffalo Museum
The National Buffalo Museum is a 6000 square foot facility housed in a rustic log building at the Frontier Village in Jamestown, North Dakota. The museum is home to numerous art works, artifacts, and related Native American items. Visitors to the museum will see such items as: a 10,000 year old skull the original Thundering Herd oil painting, wildlife mounts including a full size buffalo mount, and numerous buffalo. The museum also includes a gift shop.
Red River Zoo
For a close-up look at some of North Dakota’s wildlife, head to the Red River Zoo in Fargo. The zoo is home to more than 300 animals representing 75 species. One of the favorite animal exhibits at the Red River Zoo contains the rare red pandas, but the new timber wolf exhibit is also popular. The zoo is known for its successful breeding programs and for having some of the rarest cold climate species. There is also a historic carousel from 1928 on the zoo property.
Plains Art Museum
In North Dakota’s most populous city, Fargo, visitors can explore the Plains Art Museum, a fine art museum containing about 3,000 works of art. The museum’s permanent collection features national and regional contemporary art, traditional American Indian art, and traditional folk art. Some of the most popular artists whose work is displayed include Warhol, Rosenquist, and Dali.
Fort Abraham Lincoln
This historic state park located near Mandan, North Dakota, is home to the On-A-Slant Indian Village, and several other historic sites. The site dates to 1575 when the Mandan Indian tribe built a village and earth lodges in the area. In 1872 a U.S. military post was built in the same area.
International Peace Garden, Dunseith
This popular garden sits on the border between the U.S. and Canada in North Dakota. The garden was established in 1932 as a celebration of international peace and today contains over 150,000 flowers each year. Some of the popular features in the garden are the 18-foot floral clock display, fountains, a chime, the 120 foot tall Peace Towers, and the peace chapel.
Things to Do in North Dakota
Don’t let the fact that this big state with a small population isn’t high on many lists of must-see because that “off the beaten path” feeling is what North Dakota is all about. For a chance to explore some of America’s undiscovered beauty and delve into the little-known events of the country’s past, head to North Dakota.