North Dakota may be the least-visited of America’s lower 48 states, but that’s because people don’t know what they’re missing. The near absence of crowds at North Dakota’s world-class natural attractions, wildlife preserves, and parks is a boon for outdoor enthusiasts who are willing to make the journey to one of America’s most out-of-the-way regions. Few leave disappointed.
There is a tremendous amount of open space in North Dakota. It’s a mecca for hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, and boating. In fact, just about every form of outdoor recreation is in peak form here. In winter they ice fish and snowmobile, while summer invites people to get out on the rivers and lakes, camp, and romp around the vast open prairies and Badlands. The hunting here is also superb, attracting hordes of hunters during the season.
One of the easiest ways to experience the special natural beauty of North Dakota is to go hiking. The state’s public lands are extensive, ranging from historic parks to national wilderness. There are casual interpretive walking trails in all 24 wildlife refuges, short day hikes in the dozens of state parks, and longer adventures in hot spots like Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail. If you want some guidance try a company like Dickinson Hiking Tours.
There is a lot of water in North Dakota, from incredibly scenic lakes such as Devils Lake to the majestic Sheyenne River. The prime canoeing and kayaking season runs from May to September, when outfitters like Matah Adventures and Missouri River Kayak Adventures keep busy guiding visitors on the state’s beautiful lakes and rivers. The scenery is superb, ranging from the stark Badlands to lush rolling farmland.
According to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department there are over 150 fishing waters in the state. There are some absolutely gorgeous (and massive) lakes here, including Devils Lake, Lake Sakakawea, and Lake Metigoshe. Outfitters like Bry’s Guide Service ensure personalized help finding the sweet spots of the lakes, while websites like Fishing Buddy are a wealth of information for fishing guides. In North Dakota they fish all year round, boasting some of America’s best ice fishing.
The combination of incredibly scenic roads and virtually no motorists makes North Dakota one of the best states in America for motorcycling or bicycling. The landscape is much more varied than you might think, with lunar Badlands geology and vast open grasslands that stretch to the horizon. The Red River Valley is one giant rolling farm, while Pembina Gorge is a gash across the earth. Dakota Bike Tours and Dakota Cyclery are just two of the professional firms that run tours throughout the state’s 350 miles of official scenic roadway.
The hunting in North Dakota is legendary. Avid hunters flock here every season for some of the world’s top fowl hunting, especially ducks. You can hunt for whitetail and pronghorn deer in the Badlands or shoot pheasants in the Red River Valley. The state is known as North America’s duck factory, so hunting for birds is a major activity in North Dakota. Guides such as Mouse River Outfitters and Outlaw Ranch Outfitters can arrange all the licensing needed and take you out for bow hunting or gun hunting.