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Category Archives: Scenery

Celebrate Prairie Dog’s Day!

Black-tailed prairie dog, photo by Greg Forcey

Okay, okay.  So we all know it’s actually a relative of the prairie dog that gets all the fame and glory right about now.  Still we thought the holiday was a good reason to call Theodore Roosevelt National Park and check on the prairie dog colonies there and, more importantly, if they’re paying attention to their shadows.

Rangers at TR National Park say the mild temperatures this winter have meant our prairie dogs have been very active, especially on sunny days.  Unlike the groundhog, prairie dogs do not hibernate.  They go into what’s called a “winter sleep” allowing them to continue to burrow and eat during the winter and also scamper on those sunny days.

In the South Unit, the scenic drive loop passes through three large prairie dog towns.  In the North Unit, no dog towns can be seen from the road but there is a one-mile hike from the Caprock-Coulee parking area toward a town.  There are an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities in the Park and information about prairie dogs and other watchable wildlife is shared online.

Prairie dog town in TRNP, photo by QT Luong

In addition to not hibernating, prairie dogs differ from their larger cousins in another way: groundhogs prefer to live on their own while prairie dogs connect their burrows to huge colonies.  The colonies in Theodore Roosevelt National Park collectively span 11,000 acres! 

Another great place to see the rare black-tailed prairie dog is at Fort Stevenson State Park, on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea.  There is signage directing visitors to the prairie dog colony and explaining a bit about them.  Sully Creek State Park near Medora, has a colony right outside the park.  Colonies can also be found on private land, mostly in south central and western North Dakota.

So that one question remains – do prairie dogs pay attention to their shadows and predict the length of winter?  We invite you to visit North Dakota and see for yourself!

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Exploring Western North Dakota

What do you get when you take a beautifully rugged landscape dotted with oil wells and intersected by scoria roads, an old train-tunnel-turned-walking-path, forts and other interesting attractions and some unique shopping?

I introduce you to the western edge of North Dakota.  Beauty, history and fun combined!

Take for instance, Beach – just a mile from the Montana border – where you’ll find Prairie Fire Pottery offering tours and handmade, unique pottery every day.  If the shop isn’t open – just call the phone number on the door!  Now that’s North Dakota hospitality.

A bit north, west of Cartwright, North Dakota, is the Fairview Bridge – a 1,320 foot structure spanning the Yellowstone River.  It leads to the only tunnel in the state – a 1,458 foot long tunnel built mostly by hand in 1912 and 1913.  It’s very cool to walk through but you won’t find me there on Halloween!

A bit north are the fascinating and well-interpreted stops of Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site and Fort Buford State Historic Site near Williston.  Fort Union was the most important trading post on the upper Missouri from 1828-1867.  Fort Buford is where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881.  Much more area history is found at the Missouri-Yellowstone Interpretive Confluence Center – a place to explore history, genealogy, art and more.

Just east of that western border is Theodore Roosevelt National Park – a wealth of wildlife viewing, natural beauty, horseback riding and hiking trails and undisturbed campgrounds.  Make this area part of your vacation plans!

 
 

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Devils Lake – worth every moment

Last week, some co-workers and I had the opportunity to spend two days in Devils Lake and in short: those two days went far too fast.  We had an exclusive aerial tour of the lake, visited Sullys Hill, the Fort Totten State Historic Site, Spirit Lake Casino and the Lake Region Heritage Center.  We ate well (thank you Woodland Resort), slept well (thank you Fireside Inn) did a bit of shopping and got to go FISHING.

Our fabulous guides, Suzie and Katie from the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, asked each person in our group what their favorite thing was on the trip and they heard all experiences echoed back.  Devils Lake has a reputation for being one of the best walleye, pike and perch fisheries in the U.S.  It has a mystique, being one of the largest natural lakes in the nation that in the last 20 years has risen nearly 30-feet and is now a 3,810 square-mile basin.  Although known for fish and water – Devils Lake has many cool visitor experiences.

We did not have the time to get everywhere, nor did we have a lot of time to spend at each location.  But what we got to do was fun!  Here’s a glimpse at our experiences:

  1. Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is a birders paradise with numerous viewing stations and opportunity for photography.  Portions of the auto tour are currently closed due to the high water, but trails are open including a 2,000-foot wheelchair accessible trail.  The new visitors center is currently open by appointment.  Just call ahead to make arrangements.
  2. Fort Totten State Historic Site was a military post, a boarding school, a Native American health care facility and a reservation school and visitors can explore the grounds and all of those unique stories.  A beautiful new exhibit in the visitors center has recently opened.
  3. The Lake Region Heritage Center is a gem – there’s a perfectly preserved federal courtroom, a U.S. marshall’s office complete with “holding cell,” a reassembled rural church, a barbershop, a dentist office, displays of Native American culture and much more.  When visiting “Lil’s room” be sure to ask about the ghost story!!
  4. The fishing!!!  Seven of us split up between two boats and two top-secret locations.  In our 3 hours on the water we caught two limits of walleyes and caught-released countless northern pike.  Our guide, Jason Mitchell, had to practically force us off the water.  Check out these “smiles”!

There is road construction on several routes in and around Devils Lake.  Visitors should be prepared for delays and are welcome to check road reports with the Dept. of TransportationGrahams Island State Park is open for camping, but the road to Grahams Island may be subject to closing.  Visitors are reminded just to plan ahead as to not let anything disrupt an awesome experience.

 

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Last Minute Labor Day

Are you geared up and ready to go this weekend? With plenty of fun outdoor activities to enjoy in North Dakota, I thought I would key you in on some tidbits about this festive weekend.

Medora?

If you have not been out to Medora this summer yet, now is the absolute time! The ‘Best Show In The West,’ the Medora Musical puts on their final performance of the summer on Sept. 5. A musical tribute to the late Wade Westin will  also be held September 5 at 2 p.m., MDT at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre . The event features various artists, including Clyde Bauman, Jessie Veeder and cast members of the Medora Musical. Greg Hager will perform on the Chateau de Mores Interpretive Center patio during the afternoon on September 4.

Recreation?

Getting out to Medora also means a great weekend of scenery and recreation at the beautiful Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Since it sounds like it will be a weekend full of wonderful weather, hiking, biking, canoeing, or whatever your favorite recreational activity might be, North Dakota has you covered! Whether you want to stay close to home or take a great road trip North Dakota has many great state and national parks located across the state with fantastic trails and rivers.

Great Entertainment?

Friday Night Races is happening tonight in Grand Forks, if you haven’t gone yet, you dont’ want to miss out on this excitement!

Motor Magic is out at the North Dakota State Fair Grounds through the whole weekend, and one weekend only! They will kick off the motor mayhem along with enduro race, demolition derby, motorcycle poker run, auto cross and an auto classic car display.

-These are just a few events that are happening in North Dakota this Labor Day weekend, so if you are in need of some last minute planning  our website is your key for activities, attractions, accommodations and events! www.Ndtourism.com

 

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Fabulous, Fun Fall

This post is merely a prelude to fall, because the weather is still perfect and the greenery is still green.  As schools start there are some fabulous ways to spend a weekend (or longer) enjoying the beauty and fun of fall in North Dakota.

Next month, the Tourism Division will do the work scouting fall foliage reports and where the colors are best.  Check that out at NDtourism.com through October and November.

Fall festivals abound with hayrides, entertainment and lots of great food.  From Applefest to Sunflower Fest, Goose Fest to JunkFest – there’s a unique assortment of fun.  Pumpkin Patches open soon, and September is also grape harvest and wine stomping.  Tour North Dakota’s wineries for a sample of specialty wines – including the recently acclaimed Indy International Competition Fruit Wine of the Year – the Strawberry Rhubarb at Maple River Winery in Casselton.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Events, Family Fun, Scenery

 

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And the least laziest state goes to… North Dakota!

North Dakota was named the least laziest state in the United States by Bloomberg Businessweek on MSNBC.com yesterday. This has been a five-year study (2005-2008) using data from BLS American Time Use Survey.

So what makes a state lazy (was my first thought)? They were very clear that they did not mean lack of work ethic or engagement, but it was measured by leisure time spent doing sedentary activities compared with activities that require more physical effort, such as exercising and even working. In North Dakota, the least inactive state, people sleep 8 hours, 4 minutes; watch 2 hours, 19 minutes of television; socialize for 40 minutes; and relax for 22 minutes. The average time North Dakotans spend working is just over 5 hours. The average for the U.S. population: 8 hours, 35 minutes sleeping; 2 hours, 38 minutes watching television; 44 minutes socializing; 18 minutes relaxing; and 3 hours, 23 minutes working.

I think this study reinforces why North Dakota is so Legendary. When I think of the passion of this state, I think how important  recreation and being active is. Hunting and fishing, hiking and biking, canoeing and kayaking, golfing and birding, it seems endless. Recreation is important to many travelers and ND has the scenery and the space to keep ya movin’.

The summers are breathtaking, full of everything green, fresh and the happiness of people to just be outside all day, which many travelers are aware of. I think many are surprised, however that this is still a very active state all year-long. Fall is starting to become one of my favorite months, with temperatures in the mid 70’s, it is perfect weather for all outdoor recreation. Winter is not far behind with my latest favorite activity being cross-country skiing (there is something about working up a good sweat in the snow). Finally, spring… ohh how I do love our springs here! Fresh leaves, flowers, smells, golf courses starting to open and I am back at running season. It’s too hard for me to pick my favorite season, I guess that’s why having 4 seasons makes North Dakota Legendary!

What’s your favorite season, does it have to do with your favorite recreational activity?

Check out the full article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38382866/ns/business-bloomberg_businessweek/

 

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Blogging about a blog

I am curious if anyone else has been keeping up with Cross Country with Courtney blog at KFYRTV?! She started in early July and is a spunky, enthusiastic traveler who has taken it upon herself to find out what is so Legendary about North Dakota. She has had some exciting adventures thus far, visiting sites such as the capital, fairs, Fort Lincoln, On- A- Slant Mandan Indian Village, TR National Park and more. So get out there and visit her blog to find out all the hot spots you don’t want to miss out of in Legendary North Dakota! Thank you Courtney and we look forward to more stories of your travels here.

 

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