North Dakota April 30, 2018
Take This Epic Road Trip To Experience North Dakota’s Great Outdoors
If you’re making plans to check out North Dakota’s best outdoor attractions now that the weather is good, look no further than here. This epic road trip will bring you across the entire state of North Dakota, from the badlands to the river valleys, and stop at some of the best parks and outdoor scenery. It’s one you’ll want to take on a long weekend so you have time to extend it over a few days. You can camp at the parks along the way for the ultimate nature experience.
Pack your sleeping bags and hit the road!
This road trip will take you across all of North Dakota to the most stunning outdoor attractions. In total, the driving time is about 14 and a half hours long, so you'll probably want to set aside a weekend for this trip. Along the way you'll be coming across quite a few campgrounds where you can spend the night, but also many regular towns to rest up and grab a bite to eat.
For driving directions,
click here to see the map.
1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park - South Unit
Our first stop is the always-gorgeous Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the South Unit. This is near Medora, North Dakota, a wild west town that's just as fun to visit as the park itself. In the park, you can expect to see the unique painted canyons of the badlands. Throughout them you'll find tons of plants and animals, including bison, wild horses, prairie dogs, elk, and so much more.
2. Theodore Roosevelt National Park - North Unit
After spending some time in the South Unit of this park, head north through the Little Missouri National Grassland on a scenic drive in the grass plains until you reach the North Unit of the TRNP. Here you'll discover fantastic overlooks that will give you sweeping views of the Little Missouri River and the rugged terrain surrounding it.
3. Lewis and Clark State Park
After experiencing the beautiful North Dakota badlands, you'll continue heading north through Watford City, continue through Williston, and then start heading east towards Lake Sakakawea. One of the best places to experience North Dakota's largest lake is the Lewis and Clark State Park. It doesn't get much more beautiful than experiencing Lake Sakakawea from here!
4. Des Lacs Lake National Wildlife Refuge
After spending some time at Lake Sakakawea, you can start heading out of the badlands further east and to the north. The prairie transforms from buttes and badlands into gently rolling hills of native grasses. At the Des Lacs Lake NWR, you'll be able to experience these prairie hills, full of wildflowers at the right time of the year, surrounding a scenic lake.
5. Lake Metigoshe State Park
Continuing eastward not far from the Canadian border, you will find yourself in the Turtle Mountains. Here, you can stop at Lake Metigoshe State Park - one of the most serene, tranquil, and simply breathtaking spots in North Dakota. The lake and marshes are surrounded by trees and full of natural beauty.
6. International Peace Garden
Just a bit further northeast and you'll find yourself at the outdoor attraction that North Dakota's official nickname is named after, the International Peace Garden. Straddling the Canadian and United States border, this garden is super vibrant and has many unique monuments and things to explore within it. This is a must-see in North Dakota, road trip or not!
7. Icelandic State Park
After the garden, you'll continue on the eastbound trek all the way until you've nearly reached the end of North Dakota. Here, near the town of Cavalier, you'll find the spectacular Icelandic State Park. The park surrounds Lake Renwick for some scenic lakeside views, but that's not all it has. There is also the Gunlogson Nature Preserve that will transport you into a dense forest full of hundreds of plant species.
8. Turtle River State Park
You've headed just about as far east in North Dakota as you can, so now you'll be heading south towards Grand Forks and this fun park. The Turtle River winds through a beautifully wooded area that has plenty of trails to explore it on.
9. Sully's Hill National Game Preserve
Now we're heading back west towards North Dakota's largest natural lake, Devils Lake. Though there is many ways to experience the lake, one of the best is at Sully's Hill. This is the stunning view you'll get from climbing it, but there is a lot more to the preserve than that! You can also visit the Grahams Island State Park for another unique Devils Lake experience.
10. Beaver Lake State Park
Now you're in the home stretch with one final destination in central North Dakota. Near the town of Wishek is Beaver Lake, and a great state park surrounding it with trails, campsites, a swimming beach, and more. This is a great place to end a busy day just lounging by the lake and watching the sun set over it.
So what do you think? Are you planning on taking this trip? Let us know! And if you do, take plenty of photographs and share them with us in our
North Dakota Nature Lovers group – your photos might get featured!
If you’d like to experience North Dakota’s great outdoors but with a lot shorter of a drive,
these scenic byways might be just the thing you’re looking for.