As U.S. states go, North Dakota has more than its fair share of nicknames
There’s “The Flickertale State,” which refers to the abundance of Richardson ground squirrels known for their characteristic flick of their tails while running. Then there’s it’s official nickname “The Peace Garden State” referencing the beautiful International Peace Garden that straddles the boundary between North Dakota and the Canada’s Manitoba.
And then of course, we can’t forget “Badlands,” which comes from the Lakota people who dubbed this region “mako sica” or “badlands” long ago because of its rocky terrain, lack of water and extreme temperatures. Today, however, the Badlands are a terrific place for fossil hunting, hiking and spotting wildlife.
Below, we spotlight three not-to-be-missed places in North Dakota.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Conservation was a big deal to former President Theodore Roosevelt. We can thank him, in fact, for preserving so much of our nation’s natural beauty with the formation of the National Park Service. Roosevelt was also a big fan of North Dakota’s Badlands, which is now known as Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park consists of three areas — the North Unit, the South Unit and Elkhorn Ranch — each offering its own distinct experiences. The largest of three is the South Unit, anchored by the Old West town of Medora. Near Watford City is the North Unit, which offers a must-drive 14-mile scenic byway and stunning views at Oxbox Overlook (keep an eye open for roaming bighorn and longhorn sheep). Closest perhaps to Roosevelt’s heart is the Elkhorn Ranch Unit, which was site of his North Dakota home and where he lived and ranched.
International Peace Garden
Encompassing 2,300 acres of nature’s beauty, two pristine freshwater lakes, scenic hiking and driving trails, wildflowers, waterfalls, and a large variety of North American birds and animals, International Peace Garden is one of the country’s most symbolic and scenic attractions. Established in 1932, the garden is a tribute to the peace and friendship between the people of the U.S. and Canada. The formal garden area includes hundreds of thousands of perennials, flowering shrubs and annuals filling the mosaic-like beds and along walkways. Adding to the serene atmosphere are the flowing waters found throughout the garden. Head to the Game Warden Museum for insight into the historical and present-day roles of wildlife law enforcement and natural resources conservation. In the new Children’s Nature Play area children of all ages and abilities can enjoy a hands-on experience.
Scandinavian Heritage Park
The five Nordic Countries — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden — take centerstage in Scandinavian Heritage Park, which was created in 1989 to honor their individual cultures and contributions to North Dakota through the many Nordic immigrants who called this state home. This unique outdoor museum features a homage to each of the five countries, including a 240-year-old log house from Norway, a replica stabbur (a traditional, handcrafted log building that was a feature of all old farmsteads in rural Norway), 27-foot-tall Swedish Dala horse, the Gol Stave Church Museum, a Finnish sauna and a Danish windmill. The park also features a picnic area, statues and walking path. Feel free to bring along your furry four-legged friends, as long as they’re on a 6-foot leash.
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Glen Butler, firstname.lastname@example.org