on the road

the gadlfy in...

north dakota

gadfly homepage on the road home notes on places last contact: 8/2008 first contact: 8/2007

ND Trip Stats (8/08):


Counties visited: 11

Best county: Billings Co.

Last visited: 8/2007

Town visited most: Medora

Places slept in: Roosevelt NP (Cottonwood Campground); Fort Ransom SP (tent)

Most impressive town: Fort Ransom

Least impressive town: Jamestown

Biggest town: Fargo

Most scenic area: the North Dakota Badlands in Roosevelt NP

Most scenic spot: Wind Canyon

Three words: grunting, surprising, windy

State Animal: bison

State Tree: trees?

Tourist Traps: just west of Medora is an odd little collection of huge sculptures

Best Food: Thor's Bar in Fort Ransom on Tuesday night

Road Trips: Ring of Fire Trip (8/07); High Plains (8/08)


Neighboring States & Provinces:



Major Passes: In 8/2007 and then in 8/2008 passed through the state from Fargo to Medora along the I-94 corridor.


Accents: There are two accents in North Dakota, well, three if you count the Canadian accent that is heard on the radio. In the east, the accents are a Midwestern with a heavy Scandinavian influence. A little east of mid-state, the people speak in a very Western sort of way in the way that they mumble and amble through their words.


Heroes: North Dakota's hero is strangely Theodore Roosevelt. The rich New Yorker hunted often in the state and wrote of its natural beauty so they named a national park after him near Medora. I am aware of a paranormal fascination with the native Lawrence Welk, as well, but choose not to comment.

First Contact: I passed the state line, as most do, while crossing the Red River along I-94 in the "great" city of Fargo. Generally the views were not so impressive. I remember that there were a lot of apartment complexes along the road and a heavy Midwestern accent on the radio, but not much else. I stopped for a bit outside of the city to use the bathroom and admired the vastness of the 'amber waves of grain."

Cass Co. (8/2007)

Fargo. The most populated place I saw in the state. I did not stop to smell the roses. It seemed to be a decent, respectable place with modest apartments and businesses. There were notably more ice rinks on the side of the road than I am used to seeing. In fact, now that I think of it, it did feel a bit like Ontario here. West Fargo. The outer limit of the Midwest. Mapleton. Castleton. Tower City.

Barnes Co. (8/2007)

Made up of fields of grass and haystacks. Oriska. Valley City. Outside of town were a collection of medium-sized lakes beside the road which were a welcome change of scenery. Of particular note is large Hobart Lake.

Stutsman Co. (8/2007)

Jamestown. I consider this the less interesting sister city to Mitchell, SD. Because this large town is home to the state mental health facility, there were many mentally handicapped people working at the fast food places in town. The downtown area is run-down, but somehow not a depressing site. Cleveland. Medina.

Kidder Co. (8/2007)

Wheat fields and rangeland. I stopped to mail my car payment somewhere in the county by handing the letter to an old man in an old Chevy with a sign reading 'RURAL ROUTE U.S. MAIL' taped to his car window. Tappen. Dawson. Steele.

Burleigh Co. (8/2007)

Bismarck. The Missouri River was impressive as usual. I think the starkness of the Great Plains makes crossing the river more exciting than it probably is.

Burleigh Co. (8/2007)

Bismarck. The Missouri River was impressive as usual. I think the starkness of the Great Plains makes crossing the river more exciting than it probably is.

Morton Co. (8/2007)

Mandan. Site of the famous village where Lewis and Clark made contact with the Plains Mandans. Now it is a suburb of Bismarck. New Salem.

Stark Co. (8/2007)

There were tornadoes brewing when I drove through the county. Dickinson. Better get gas. Last stop for a while. Taylor. Gladstone. Belfield.

Billings Co. (8/2007)

Medora. A neat, tiny, relaxed town that was a mix between the West and the Northwoods in feel. This is the biggest tourist town in the state and so gas prices are insanely high. There are a few nice restaurants and shops. Medora is still waiting for the rest of the country to hear of it. Theodore Roosevelt NP. The rocks rise out of the grassy Plains out of no where. One of the greatest places on earth! This is where the West lives and while I was here I felt more alive than ever. Driving through the windy fields and dodging prairie dogs, you wind through buffalo herds and the domain of wild horse bands. The badland formations reflect the sunlight the way God intended. The air is crisp and clear. In the night, while camping, the air is full of the grunts of bison and you are awoken by the plaintive neighing of stallions. Vast hills... winding streams... ponderosa stands... 

Golden Valley Co. (8/2007)

Little Missouri Nat'l Grassland. There is an odd drive-thru sculpture park along the road here. Ranches and rolling short grass prairie. Beach. Sentinal Butte.

A pair of wild horses played as a thunderstorm brewed in the clouds. (2007)

The sun setting near the town of Medora.  (2007)

What most of North Dakota looks like. Big skies, empty fields. This photo was taken in Barnes County.  (2007)

A bison roaming along the roadside in Roosevelt NP. There were healthy herds in the Badlands.  (2007)

The North Dakota Badlands in their glory.  (2007)


all photos (c) 2007 J. Bezold, all rights reserved