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Visiting North Dakota on Your Next Road Trip
North Dakota, “The Flickertail State," stretches from the rugged Badlands and verdant prairies to Missouri River waterways and farmlands, gardens and gentle valleys. It’s a place of great natural beauty.
In this state’s southwestern Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park was established to honor Roosevelt’s significant conservation efforts and his high personal regard for the area. His namesake national park has two portions accessible from either Medora or Watford City. The northern side contains forested lands punctuated with towering buttes; the South section displays a more weathered, layered look that reflects millions of years of wind, rain, and the gradual effects of the Little Missouri River. Both areas are promising destinations for backcountry explorers, auto tourists and wildlife watchers. Deer, prairie dogs, buffalo, and grouse are commonly seen from the scenic roadways. Observant travelers sometimes encounter elk, antelope and wild horses. You can choose more active pursuits like hiking, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.
Lake Sakakawea State Park is in the central west portion of the “Flickertail State,” just outside Pick City. Named for the Shoshone woman who assisted Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery, this park is on Lake Sakakawea’s southern shore next to Garrison Dam. The lake is the largest man-made reservoir in the United States, measuring 178 miles in length. Known for its top-notch salmon fishing, Sakakawea State Park provides angling necessities at a marina complete with fishing guide services. Angling derbies and sailing regattas are scheduled during summer months. For visitors who want to stay high and dry, hiking is another popular activity.
In North Dakota’s north central region, near the town of Devils Lake, the Devils Lake Parks System includes State Recreation Areas at Black Tiger Bay and Shelvers Grove as well as Grahams Island State Park. Set in one of North Dakota’s most picturesque areas, Devils Lake is also the largest natural waterway in the state. Fishing and boating are the chief activities, with anglers catching white bass, pike and walleye on a regular basis. Whopper yellow perch are favorite winter prizes for the lakes’ ice fisherman. More fun can be had by hikers who negotiate the paths through hardwood forests of oak, elm and aspen that fringe Devils Lake.
Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge is in the southeastern prairie region of North Dakota in Carrington. Nature photographers and birdwatchers discover lots of worthy subjects in this refuge and its several small lakes, woodlands, and prairies; a home to more than 250 species of birds. A nice summer bonus is the natural crop of fresh juneberries, chokecherries and other tasty fruits. A self-guided auto tour takes refuge visitors on a five-mile interpretive route through the home ranges of deer, fox, ring-necked pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, and Hungarian partridges.
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