Need to Visit My 50th State: North Dakota

GeekMom Travel
North Dakota, inspire me. Image: Wikimedia Commons by user TUBS via CC BY-SA 3.0
North Dakota, inspire me. Image: Wikimedia Commons by user TUBS via CC BY-SA 3.0

This summer my family and I have done quite a bit of travel. In fact, we recently wrapped up an Alaskan cruise that included driving from Colorado to our cruise port in Vancouver, British Columbia. And back. At the tune of 1500 miles and 2 days in each direction.

There were numerous benefits to our driving instead of flying to include the cost savings and the ability to be liberal with our packing since we didn’t have to pay extra to check luggage for a flight. Obviously driving took more time but we looked forward to seeing a new part of the country: the Pacific Northwest.

The most appealing reason for my husband and me was the chance to “check off” more states. Before the road trip, my husband had been to 48 of our 50 states (all but Oregon and Alaska), while I had been to 47 of them.

By the end of our cruise, my husband could claim having visited all 50 states in the union**. However, I remain at 49 and I am flummoxed at how to check off that 50th state.

I need a reason to visit North Dakota. And so far I’m coming up short.

I don’t know anyone who has vacationed in North Dakota. I’m sure there are plenty of parks to see, but I don’t hear about them the way I hear about the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, or even Lake Okoboji in Iowa! I know people who deliberately plan vacations to those places.

In addition, the weather makes it tricky to visit. The climate is pretty extreme, with snow possible any time of year.

I don’t even know many people from North Dakota. I’m close enough to two people to ask them specifically how to plan a trip so I can say I’ve visited all 50 states. They each suggested parts of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which happens to be in the southwest corner of the state—closest to my home in Colorado. That part of the state has petrified forest, badlands, and ancient glacial lakes. I’m sure it’s worth visiting!

Ironically, I have a friend here who also wants to check North Dakota off her list. As a fellow military spouse, she also has visited the other 49 states. We are discussing a road trip this fall just to the “Welcome to North Dakota” sign on U.S. Highway 85, which is about a 9 hour drive. But frankly I think it’d be a more fruitful visit if we find something to do or see there.

If you have suggestions about what I could do on a short road trip to North Dakota, feel free to comment below!

**Our definition of “visiting” can include merely driving through a particular state, but we didn’t count air travel layovers.

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15 thoughts on “Need to Visit My 50th State: North Dakota

  1. Good luck! I also would like to visit all 50 states, but I have more than 1 left. We always count it that you have to at least eat somewhere – interaction with one native is required for it to count in my book. 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading — if I had to apply the “interact with a native” rule to my list, I’d be back down to 48 because of Rhode Island. I stopped at an I-95 Welcome Center to use the restroom but I don’t think I talked to anyone.

  2. Honestly, I have no idea how you would get there, but best to find a reason like you said instead of driving 9 hours. Yikes!

    I haven’t been to that many states at all! We have spent so much time overseas and I’m hoping that trend continues.

  3. Last summer we took a road trip to North Dakota. We live in Oregon and both sides of my husband’s family lives there. I had never been so we took a road trip as a family to go visit. Our son was three at the time.

    I ordered in the visitors guide from the internet. I found it to be quite helpful.

    We really enjoyed Fort Union Trading Post. It’s a historical site and they have people in period costumes there. Kids can do kind of like a scavenger hunt and get a junior ranger park badge. Which was a plastic pin shaped like a park badge. You can also do that at Theodore Roosevelt State Park. But the pins are unique for each place. So you can do them all.

    We also enjoyed Jamestown. Search for Frontier Village there. It is really neat and that’s where the Giant Buffalo statue is. There was a little soda shop there as well that we stopped and got ice cream at. They have several gift shops there with North Dakota made items and there is a spot where you can feed buffalo.

    Also look up Enchanted Highway. I have seen it featured on several websites as the number one thing to visit in ND, especially if you have kids.

    Painted Canyon is the last place I recommend going. It is in the SW area and us near Enchanted Highway. So it should be fairly convenient.

    If you really want to get wild and crazy you could visit the Minot AFB lol. My husband is in the Oregon Air National Guard. We wanted to swing by there. I like visiting bases but we didn’t get a chance to swing by there.

    I hope that helps some. Jamestown is out of the way compared to the other places I mentioned.

      1. Yw. Hopefully it helps some. We like visiting historical sites and stuff like that. So that’s why my list is kind of limited to that sort of thing.

        If you stop at Painted Canyon they have a visitor center there and I remember they had books and information about the junior ranger program. Plus, it is right off the highway. The visitor center is part of a rest stop area. So if you do that early in the trip you can get some good info there for other stuff to do.

  4. Well, if you dare come in winter, going to Grand Forks, ND during a hockey night at the University of North Dakota is quite a sight.

  5. We might be biased, but we think you should make a stop in Fargo. If you do, be sure to stop by the Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center, and mention that it’s your 50th state!

      1. Of course! 🙂 We have THE wood chipper used in the movie here at our visitors center!

        If you do come our way, and would like suggestions for things to see, do & eat in the area, just let us know!

    1. If you’re still following this post, you’ll be pleased to know that a girlfriend and I (with our 4 kids between the two of us) spent July 4th in Medora, ND. It was a lovely small town and it was refreshing to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park without the insane crowds, which is what my experiences at parks like the Grand Canyon and Arches have been in recent years.

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