As summer officially gets underway, North Dakota welcomes thrill seekers and adventure enthusiasts ready to take on the exhilarating landscapes of the state. Our awe-inspiring vistas, freshwater lakes and legendary dinosaurs create the backdrop for an affordable adventure this summer.
With miles of rugged trails, countless opportunities to get a fish on the line, watersports that showcase more shoreline than the state of California and even larger-than-life dinosaurs, North Dakota offers unlimited thrills for the whole family. Here are four adrenaline pumping pursuits this summer.
Trails That Take Your Breath Away
Showcasing some of the most unique and breathtaking terrain nationwide, the Maah Daah Hey Trail is filled with majestic plateaus, jagged peaks and valleys, large expanses of rolling prairie, and rivers intertwining to offer the adventurous outdoors enthusiast a taste of pure, unadulterated landscapes. Beginning just south of Medora, the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail, great for hiking, biking and horseback riding, stretches through the Badlands and all three units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Known to be a mountain biker’s playground, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has designated the trail as EPIC, meaning it’s one of the top mountain biking trails in the United States.
With Theodore Roosevelt National Park and 13 state parks, there are trails for every skill level. Hikers interested in trekking to awe-inspiring vistas won’t want to miss the Little Missouri State Park Loop trail, leading to bluffs overlooking the mouth of the Little Missouri River and into Lake Sakakawea or the Purple Coneflower Loop, located in Fort Stevenson State Park, winding through flowing grasslands and offering a stunning overlook of de Trobriand Bay.
Wild About Water Sports
Calling all water sports enthusiasts! There is a body of water to fit every skill level and we have some of the best kayaking and canoeing waters in the Midwest. From the free-flowing waters of the Missouri River to the deep blue Lake Sakakawea and the year-round resort destination of Devils Lake, there is a vast array of waters suited for all recreational needs.
For adventure seekers, the Pembina River twists and turns through the scenic Pembina Gorge. The Gorge is one of the only places in the state where kayakers can experience Class 1 rapids. For those ready to set out on the water, outfitters are ready to offer equipment from kayaks and canoes to standup paddleboards (SUP) for numerous rivers and lakes including the Missouri and Red Rivers in Bismarck, Grand Forks and Fargo. Check out the many areas offering kayak and canoe rentals available.
Millions of years before North Dakota was a state, prehistoric creatures lived out their legendary existence here. Today, you can jump back in time and explore fossil-bearing sites ranging in age from 30 years to 73 million years with North Dakota’s Great Eight dinosaur and fossil attractions.
Kick off the discovery of North Dakota’s prehistoric past at the Dickinson Museum Center – known as North Dakota’s dinosaur gem. The Center houses full-scale dinosaurs, including a real skeleton of a Triceratops, that will be sure to make your heart pound. Another must-see stop for dinosaur lovers is the Pioneer Trails Regional Museum, located in Bowman. Known for its active regional research and repository, this museum houses preservation collections from North Dakota, along with offering local fossil tours.
For those truly seeking a thrill from the past, Dakota, an extremely rare, mummified duck-billed dinosaur, greets guests at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum (where admission is always free!). Dakota is one of only six known naturally preserved hadrosaur mummies with skin mostly intact and visible scales.
Reel in a Whopper Catch
With over 400 lakes and rivers, North Dakota offers exciting action for walleye, northern pike, perch and other game fish year-round. Anglers can fish the “Big Three” and experience some of the best fishing to be had around the state.
Devils Lake, nicknamed the "Perch Capital of the World,” is known as one of the best fisheries in the U.S. As the largest natural body of water in North Dakota, Devils Lake is home to large numbers of perch, walleye, northern pike and white bass.
Lake Sakakawea is filled by the Missouri River and contained by the Garrison Dam, this legendary lake alone offers more shoreline than the Pacific Coast of California! Lake Sakakawea is so expansive anglers could spend the day on the water without seeing another person – just walleye, northern pike, salmon, crappie, smallmouth bass and more.
Entering North Dakota from Montana, the Upper Missouri River flows just west of Williston and into South Dakota. The far northwestern reaches of the Missouri is the spot to snag some great fish and the free-flowing river offers a good setting for sauger.
For more adrenaline pumping adventures and ideas, visit NDtourism.com.