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North Dakota has a captivating history featuring some of America's greatest leaders, adventurers, and warriors. At its many preserved forts, visitors discover the stories of Native Americans led by Sitting Bull, fighting to preserve the plains culture, as well as tales of soldiers who manned lonely outposts.
History buffs can retrace Lewis and Clark's journey along the Missouri River, beginning at Fort Mandan, where their expedition acquired as a member Sacagawea, also known as Sakakawea, one of the most famous North Dakotans.
Today, North Dakota has one of the highest populations of Native Americans in the country. Their reservations are rich cultural destinations, with traditional powwows held throughout the year. Its heritage also encompasses the traditions of Scandinavia and Germany, the homelands of many of the state's original pioneers.
North Dakota's pristine land seems to stretch forever, with immigrants surely lured by the same vista that tempts today's athletes and outdoorsman. One of the best places to experience the state's natural beauty is in the Badlands of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in western North Dakota.
Roosevelt was a rancher here for a time, and his memories of North Dakota would later fuel his passion for conservation. Visitors to the stark cliffs and buttes of the Badlands can camp, view species like bison and elk, or bike the Maah Daah Hey Trail. Lake Sacajawea is another scenic spot, so expansive it can accommodate sailors as well as avid sport fishermen.
Winters this far north can seem formidable. North Dakota looks stunning lightly blanketed by pure-white snow, and the snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing is unparalleled.
In the summer, the 2,339-acre (946 ha) International Peace Garden is a serene place to visit. Situated on the world's longest unfortified border between the United States and Canada, it is a symbol of peace and friendship.
Though many may be surprised to hear it, North Dakota does have more to offer than history and the great outdoors. The Indian reservations, reservoirs of cultural knowledge, are also home to a number of glitzy casinos.
Fargo and Grand Forks are college towns, complete with arts scenes, bars, and clubs. Grand Forks is home to University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux ice hockey team, the state's major sports competitor.
The Enchanted Highway is the most unusual attraction in North Dakota. It's a 32-mile (52km) stretch of lonely road, erected along which are the world's largest metal sculptures that capture the surprising quirks waiting to charm visitors to North Dakota.
While North Dakota is one of the least populated states in the US, that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot to see and explore. For lovers of history and the great outdoors, and perhaps even some scenic driving too, this state is certainly worth the visit.
The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is always the first stop on visitors' lists. This incredible park stretches 70,000 acres and offers some outstanding scenery and spots to hike and camp. There are painted canyons, unique rock formations, and rugged terrain to explore.
The Frontier Village and National Buffalo Museum is a great place to catch a sight of the rare albino bison and see the world's largest Bison Monument. Additionally, the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is another historical gem found in the Peace Garden State on an old camping ground of the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians.
The North Dakota Heritage Center also offers tourists the opportunity to learn the history of North Dakota, from prehistoric to modern times. Lovers of art will enjoy the Plains Art Museum in Fargo. Home to a substantial collection of works, the museum offers wonderful exhibitions all year round.
A drive along the Enchanted Highway is also a well-liked activity among visitors who love the arts, introducing them to a 32-mile (52km) stretch of road with some incredible metal sculptures to view and admire.
Frontier Village showcases the lives of prairie pioneers, with original prairie town buildings housing many frontier antiques and artefacts. Features of the village include the Kirkpatrick Gallery, the Louis L'Amour Writer's Shack, and an outdoor amphitheatre, as well as stagecoach and pony rides.
The National Buffalo Museum has a buffalo herd on its property with three albino bison: White Cloud, Dakota Miracle, and Dakota Legend. Native Americans traditionally hold the white buffalo as sacred and they are extremely rare.
For a scenic drive and interesting art experience, head for the Enchanted Highway near Regent. The numerous whimsical metal sculptures along the road include , and , and are all constructed by artist David Greff. Miniatures of each sculpture are available from the gift shop in Regent.
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame pays tribute to Native American and cowboy cultures, including trail drives, ranching, and rodeo. This is where the memories of famous local cattlemen and rodeo stars will live on forever.
There is a lovely patio available to visitors and meeting rooms can be booked as well. As a great complement to the Hall of Fame, head to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre to watch the famous Medora Musical, which celebrates Old West life.
Native Americans inhabited the Knife River area for over 11,000 years, with three Hidatsa villages illustrating that legacy. It's said to once be the home of Sacagawea, the Native American women of Lewis and Clark lore. A museum and visitors' centre are also features of this attraction.
Fargo has the humid continental climate typical of the Great Plains, with four distinct seasons and huge swings in temperature throughout the year. The city experiences long, cold winters with heavy snow, and warm, humid summers with frequent thunderstorms.
Summers (June to August) have average temperatures between 55°F (13°C) and 82°F (28°C). May and June are the wettest months. Winters (December to March) are bitterly cold, with temperatures below freezing for weeks on end and an average of 52 inches (132cm) of snow each season.
North Dakota has a continental climate with four distinct seasons. Its average temperature is cool, ranging from 37-43°F (3-6°C). Winters are dry and sometimes bitterly cold, especially in January. However, the state has a longer temperate season than many imagine.
Due to its northern latitude, the sun rises before 6am and sets after 9.30pm. Summers are sunny and can be quite hot at times, and thunderstorms are common, but North Dakota is one of the driest states in the US.
Public transport in the Fargo-Moorhead area caters specifically to the local university population. MATBUS operates 23 fixed routes around the region from Monday to Saturday. Getting around the Fargo-Moorhead area is easiest by car, however.
Parking is easily available in most areas, and the city itself is easy to navigate as it is set up in a classic grid pattern. Note that winter conditions can be extreme, and drivers unaccustomed to snow and ice are advised against hiring a car in the winter months.
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