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Guest Blog : Undiscovered Travels in North Dakota – A Memeorable RV Experience

This guest blog comes from our friends at El Monte RV Rentals who invite others to explore North Dakota as they did.

Here’s a great way to produce an eyebrow-arching reaction from your friends: tell them that you’re going to take a trip to North Dakota this year. That’s right, North Dakota – home state of bubbly bandleader Lawrence Welk, zen coaching great Phil Jackson and peppery actress Angie Dickinson, to name just a few famous North Dakotans. Those who think the only thing to do in North Dakota is shovel snow 10 months out of the year would be very surprised to find out just how much fun you can have in our 39th state. And because so many still think this way, you’re not going to find the usual suffocating crowds and long lines that plague so many of the country’s top destinations. So pack your bags, rent an RV and get ready for a memorable and truly relaxing vacation.

Begin your trip in the eastern part of the state with a stop at the Prairie Rose Carousel in Wahpeton, open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even people without kids will marvel at seeing this fully restored 1926 Spillman model featuring 20 intricately painted wooden horses, two chariots and a calliope – it’s one of only 150 working carousels left in the country. And should you fancy a ride, it’s just $1.50.

From there, it’s a short drive to Bonanzaville in West Fargo. Learn about prairie life in the 1800’s as you stroll through more than 40 restored vintage buildings, including homes, schools, stores, depots and banks. On-site museum collections feature tractors, buggies, medical equipment and aircraft, including a C-47 that was used during the D-Day invasion.

To see an amazing collection of vintage aircraft that still fly, check out the nearby Fargo Air Museum, which features the F4-U Corsair, L 39 Jet, TBM Avenger, P 51 Mustang, Fairchild PT-19A, L 19 Bird dog, Bell Helicopter and “Duggy – the Smile in the Sky” DC 3.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineNext, drive north to Dunseith to visit the International Peace Garden located on the US-Canadian border. Constructed in 1932 as a symbol of friendship between the two countries, the 2339-acre Peace Garden offers vibrant displays of over 150,000 flowers including an 18-foot floral clock. It’s open year-round but the best views are when the park is at full bloom mid-July through August. Take time to park at one of the campgrounds to hike the surrounding Turtle Mountain forests and do some serious bird watching.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineAlso worth a stop is nearby Lake Metigoshe State Park, where you can enjoy acres of pristine wilderness, a crisp mountain lake and hike the 3-mile Old Oak Trail, the state’s first Recreation Trail. Here you can experience the rugged beauty of nature while you unplug from life’s day-to-day distractions.

After a day or two of true R&R, you’ll be ready to head back south to Bismarck, the state capital and home to a number of can’t miss historical attractions. The North Dakota Heritage Center museum is open year-round, and documents the entire history of the land from its formation and pre-historic dinosaurs to the western expansion era, Indian encounters and industrial age growth. You can also learn about the U.S.S. North Dakota and other nautical interests in the Hall of Honors section of the Museum.

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the InteriorFamed explorers Lewis and Clark travelled the Missouri River (which is actually longer than the Mississippi) through this part of North Dakota with Indian guide Sakakawea, and their adventures are highlighted at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center next to Fort Mandan, just a short drive from Bismarck. You can try on a buffalo robe, learn about the fur trade and view breathtaking watercolors by Karl Bodmer, regarded as one of the best eyewitness illustrators of Upper Midwest Indian Cultures.

In addition to Fort Mandan, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park located on the west side of the Missouri boasts an impressive array of historical attractions, including reconstructed Indian earth lodges and General George Custer’s last Calvary post and reconstructed home. It was from this fort that he rode out to meet his fate at the hands of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

by Mary Brazell, courtesy of National Park Service

The western part of North Dakota is where you’ll find Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a panoramic tribute to our 26th President’s fervent belief in conservation, located near the town of Medora. You can read about the former president’s adventures in his own words and explore his Maltese Cross and Elkhorn ranches, surrounded by the austere beauty of the western badlands. Gain a unique perspective of the area from a saddle –guided horseback tours are available at Peaceful Valley Ranch within the Park.

Wrap up your tour by taking in a performance of the Medora Musical – a rollicking family-friendly entertainment adventure with singing, dancing and even live horses in a show that reflects upon the time Roosevelt spent in the area. The show is performed nightly during the summer months, and includes a mix of modern country, gospel and patriotic songs.

Amusing, restful, historic and panoramic – all very suitable words you can use to describe your journey through the quietly remarkable state of North Dakota.

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals.  You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty’s Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their Camping Pictures

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Travel back in time when you experience the Custer story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s May 17. One-hundred-thirty-six years ago this day Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry based at Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory left their post and journeyed west on the Centennial Campaign into the valley of the Little Big Horn.  It was an attempt to force non-treaty Indians back to their respective reservations.  Outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered, over 260 men were killed during the ensuing battle, including all five of Custer’s companies.

The Custer story is legendary in North Dakota – shared with visitors at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park south of Mandan and along the Custer Trail Auto Tour through the Little Missouri Grasslands near Medora.

May 17th also marks the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking for Custer House – the reconstructed home of George and Libby Custer. Visitors to Fort Abraham Lincoln can tour Custer House and the rebuilt cavalry post commissary, barracks and outbuildings.  They can hear the stories of how the first fort – Fort McKeen – was created to protect railway expansion. By 1874, then known as Fort Abraham Lincoln, it had become the largest and most important fort in the Dakota Territory and was the starting point of Black Hills Expansion to confirm rumors of gold.

Daily tours are available at Fort Lincoln and at On-A-Slant Indian Village – another “don’t miss” attraction of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.  On-A-Slant was a large village of the Mandan people dating to around 1575.  It suffered greatly from a smallpox epidemic in 1781.  Visitors today are guided by interpreters as they tour reconstructed earthlodges and hear stories of the Mandan people.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Attractions, History

 

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Spooky times in North Dakota

Fort Abraham Lincoln has a reputation as one of the most haunted places of North Dakota.  Rumor has it that when Custer House (where General George Armstrong Custer and his wife Libby lived) was reconstructed in 1989 the men and women who long ago lived and died at Fort Lincoln were themselves resurrected. Interpreters and tourists both reported paranormal experiences from the beginning, and as more buildings were added, so too were hauntings to the chronicles of the strange and unexplained at Fort Lincoln. A woman wearing a black dress is seen looking out a second-floor window of the Custer House; footsteps are heard pacing the sergeant’s quarters in the Barracks; the voices of weeping women echo along the boardwalk; a shadowy figure stalks the Commissary at night; horses’ hooves stomp the dirt of their stalls in the Stables.

Paranormal activity has continued for years; occasionally a new phenomena is documented, like floating orbs in photographs. In 2002, Haunted Fort was created at Fort Abraham Lincoln – giving visitors the opportunity to have a spooky, hair-raising good time at a fascinating (and haunted?) historic site.

Haunted Fort will be open October 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29.  Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is a great visit at all times of year.

More Scary Situations and Fall Travel Ideas

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Attractions, Entertainment, Events

 

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A cultural vacation

Sometimes when people travel, you’ll hear them talk about immersing themselves in the culture.  Or that they might even be taking a cultural vacation.  In fact, one of the top travel trends in the U.S. is “history and culture” vacations.  But what does that mean?  And could you even be doing it without knowing?

The types of cultural experiences found in North Dakota vary.  Our Culture & Heritage Trail Guide is a free publication dedicated to five themes found in a North Dakota vacation experience.  You can request this publication online or by calling 1-800-435-5663.  The themes you’ll read about include:

  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Wildlife & Wonders
  • Heritage & Heroes
  • The Lewis & Clark Trail
  • Ranches, Farms & Gardens

The types of culture found in North Dakota is far ranging and includes celebrations of immigrant cultures, like the Ukrainian Festival in Dickinson (July 22-24), the Deuce of August Icelandic Celebration in Mountain (July 29-31) and North America’s largest Scandinavian Festival, Norsk Hostfest in Minot (September 27-October 1).

There are celebrations of western culture, like the  Taylor Horsefest (July 29-30), the Wild West Shootouts at the Frontier Village in Jamestown and Tatanka Festival (July 7-10) and the popular Medora Musical (nightly June 10-September 10).

You can also explore Native American culture at the Northern Great Plains Culture Fest (July 30-31) and the magnificent UTTC International Powwow (September 8-11).

And if you’re looking for history, you’ve visited the right place.  North Dakota is where legends were made and you can follow the Trail of Lewis & Clark, visit Theodore Roosevelt’s cabin in a national park named for him, see the home of Sakakawea, the fort of General Custer, the headdress of Sitting Bull, a museum dedicated to Roger Maris and even the birthplace of Lawrence Welk.

You are invited to visit, explore and enjoy North Dakota’s history and culture.  From one of the oldest standing structures built by immigrants to a botanical garden commemorating international peace – there’s a diverse and fun trail waiting for you in North Dakota.

 
 

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