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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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Welcome to North Dakota!

Two-hundred-seven (207) years ago today, the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed into what is now North Dakota.  During their time, it was known as the Upper Missouri, or the Great Bend of the Missouri, or Upper Louisiana.   For Lewis and Clark, North Dakota was the transition zone between the familiar and the unfamiliar, between lands that had already been mapped, named and described and terra incognita.

They hadn’t originally planned to winter with the 4,500 Mandan and Hidatsa Indians of the Knife River earthlodge villages.  Clark planned to get as far as the “Rock mountains” before winter and Lewis expressed uncertainty about where they would stop.  But when the captains began to notice ice forming on their rowing oars and experienced their first northern plains snowfall on October 21, 1804, they realized that they must soon establish winter quarters.  Five days later, they made their first substantial contact with the Mandan Indians, who had a reputation for being friendly to visitors.  And they ended up staying 197 days on that outward journey.

North Dakota continues to have a welcoming and friendly reputation.  In fact, Cambridge University called North Dakota the most friendly state to visit.  And here, the Lewis & Clark story can be discovered by modern explorers.

A reconstructed Fort Mandan is a full-size replica refurbished in the era.  (The original fort burned down sometime before the expedition’s return voyage in 1806.)

At Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Stanton, visitors can step into a reconstructed earthlodge, walk to the Sakakawea Village site, and in the modern visitors center, view traditional clothing, tools, art and more.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn is the comprehensive stop to learn, see and experience the Corps of Discovery.  These sites are open year-round and winter events at Fort Mandan mean you can step back into the period when Lewis and Clark walked the same trails.

Details of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North Dakota can be found in the book, A Vast and Open Plain, written by Clay Jenkinson.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Attractions, History

 

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Flood update from North Dakota Tourism

There is an emergency in Minot, North Dakota right now, along with several communities along the Souris River – for travel information, contact the Minot Convention and Visitors BureauStatewide flood information is available along with travel information from North Dakota’s travel counselors [1-800-435-5663].

Actor Josh Duhamel offers support for his hometown

Concern and support for Minot has been flowing in faster than the Souris, including from Transformers 3 Actor Josh Duhamel who called Minot this morning from Moscow (where he is promoting the new movie).  He also told Entertainment Tonight about how people can donate to the Red Cross efforts in Minot.  How very cool and respectable that this Hollywood Star has such deep North Dakota roots.  Be sure follow Duhamel on Facebook and Twitter.  Watch his call-in with this YouTube clip and his ET interview.

I also found the words written on the Visit Minot blog yesterday to be provoking and inspirational:

Minot is facing one of the most devastating floods the city has ever seen …  The community has come together to help family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and in some cases perfect strangers … We know there is going to be along road ahead of us … But there is no doubt we will make it through this … All it will take is a little Magic.

For travelers wondering about Minot here’s a snapshot of closures:

Additional flood news

While the Souris River makes national headlines in Minot, the Missouri River continues to create additional news throughout the country.  Here in North Dakota, the water level along the Missouri River is stable.  Our friends in Williston report that the swollen river has given Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site a historically authentic experience – as it would have appeared during the times of fur trade.  All visitor experiences are open in Williston.

Lake Sakakawea is certainly at an all-time height.  Water temperatures are rising and reports are trickling in that the walleye bite is warming up as well.  All resorts, campgrounds and boat ramps are open on the big lake.  Check road reports for closures and construction news.

In Washburn, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is open, but there are no tours at historic Fort Mandan.  And across the river near Stanton, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is also open.

Bismarck-Mandan does have closures at campgrounds and marinas.  There are some road closures and traffic limitations.  Visitors should know that all shopping, dining and most attractions are open including Raging Rivers Waterpark, the Heritage Center, Custer House at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park and many more.  Softball players and their families coming to the Capitol City this weekend for the McQuade’s tournament will have only a few road construction detours to worry about.  The Bismarck Marathon, which will take place September 17, will have a new route.

While there is a no-wake zone along the Missouri River to the headwaters of Lake Oahe (just south of Bismarck-Mandan), fishing continues with many access points in this giant lake.

Along the Little Missouri River – all visitor centers and scenic drives in both the North Unit and South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are open (and spectacular).  Campgrounds have re-opened in the park and in Medora – where the famed Medora Musical and Pitchfork Fondue are being offered nightly (through September 10) and all visitor services are open.  Bully Pulpit Golf Course has 9 holes open and playable.

And in Devils Lake, there is some road construction and road closures due to the mystifying lake – Fort Totten State Historic Site is open, Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is open upon appointment, the Spirit Lake Casino is open as well as all visitor services in Devils Lake and numerous boat ramps.  Don’t forget to visit the Lake Region Heritage Center Museum – it’s a gem!

While news in Minot, Bismarck, Medora and other cities flood-affected have created a lot of concern – we’d like to also note that adventurous, fun and memorable experiences await you throughout North Dakota.  We have thousands of events, historical sites, museums, nature areas and so much more.  A favorite of mine – the F-M RedHawks are at home in Fargo this weekend.  Our guests love North Dakota – read their stories at www.RULegendary.com – and then come back and share your own!

 

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Wondering about flooding in North Dakota? We’ve got the answers

The Medora Musical opens its season June 10 and will be performed nightly through September 10.

Accessible, affordable golf. Great fishing. First-class historical forts and attractions. Awesome Badlands and wildlife. Fun cities. Wild rodeos and events.  North Dakota has it and rest assured – it’s open for the summer!

As seen in the U.S. and around the world this year, Mother Nature has been unleashing some wacky weather.  Some of that has affected North Dakota due to heavy rains and mountain snowpack melt-off.  The state has been experiencing flooding in a few areas of the state and the North Dakota Tourism Division wants to make sure you have the most current information available when planning your trip or traveling our great state.

First of all – here are some go-to resources to help with your planning and navigation:

  1. The North Dakota Tourism Division website – where you can check out press releases with travel updates.
  2. The ND Dept. of Transportation – which has highway maps showing any affected travel routes.
  3. The ND Parks and Recreation Dept. – which monitors camp sites, trails and more.
  4. Our mobile site – which can help with some on-the-go contact information.

Here’s a quick update on some of the places we’re being most frequently asked about:

  • Bismarck – most attractions and golf courses are open. Raging Rivers Waterpark opens June 18 and the Super Slide Amusement Park has reopened. 
  • Devils Lake – the fishing is awesome. Road construction is taking place so just be prepared for delays.  Sullys Hill is open by appointment.  Fort Totten State Historical site is open and has new displays in the visitor center.
  • Lake Sakakawea – all resorts are open along with the state parks. Boat ramps are available.
  • Minot – the zoo is temporarily closed but most visitor services are open.
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora – all visitor centers are open, scenic drives are open, the Chateau de Mores is open, Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin is open with daily tours, and Bully Pulpit Golf Course has opened nine holes.  The Medora Musical is running nightly through September 10. The Juniper Campground in Theodore Roosevelt NP has reopened, trail rides are being provided and ranger programs are offered daily.  There are still some campgrounds were clean-up efforts are going on and a portion of the Maah Daah Hey trail is closed.
  • Washburn – Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center are open. Fort Mandan is inaccessible at the moment.

For a full listing, please see our latest press release.

It’s also been reported that Amtrak has restored service in North Dakota.

We want you to fully enjoy your North Dakota vacation.  So please just plan ahead, be prepared and have a great time! Then be sure to tell us about it at www.RULegendary.com – we’re giving away weekly prizes to hear your vacation stories (and see the pictures and videos too).

 

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206th birthday of Sakakawea’s son

Sakakawea statue at the entrance to the North Dakota Heritage Center. Photo by Sharon Silengo

On the North Dakota State Capitol grounds in Bismarck, a 12-foot high bronze statue of Sakakawea and her baby son, Baptiste, stands at the entrance to the Heritage Center – the state’s largest museum.  The statue, created by Chicago sculpture Leonard Crunelle, depicts Sakakawea with her baby strapped to her back, looking westward toward the country she helped open on the Corp of Discovery.  The story of Sakakawea is fascinating and unique and it can now be explored through a new display and an online exhibit by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

A special piece of that story surrounds newborn baby Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.  Today, February 11, marks the 206th birthday of Baptiste.  In the book “A Vast and Open Plain” edited by North Dakota’s own Clay Jenkinson, we find how Captain Meriwether Lewis documented the birth.

“about five oclock this evening one of the wives of Charbono was delivered of a fine boy. it is worthy of remark that this was the first child which this woman had boarn and as is common in such cases her labour was tedious and the pain violent; Mr. Jessome informed me that he had freequently administered a small portion of the rattle of a rattle-snake, which he assured me had never failed to produce the desired effect, that of hastening the birth of the child; having the rattle of a snake by me I gave it to him and he administered two rings of it to the woman broken in small pieces with the fingers and added to a small quantity of water. Whether this medicine was truly the cause or not I shall not undertake to determine, but I was informed that she had not taken it more than ten minutes before she brought forth”

It is not fully known if Baptiste (also nicknamed Pomp or Pompy by Lieutenant William Clark) was born at Fort Mandan, or nearby.  He remains the only infant to be a part of a major exploration and to ever be depicted on United States currency.  More about Sakakawea’s son is also online with the “Creating Sakakawea” exhibit.

Visitors to North Dakota can learn more about Sakakawea, Baptiste, the Corp of Discovery and the Mandan and Hidatsa peoples along the Lewis & Clark Trail in North Dakota and notably at the Heritage Center, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan, and numerous Trail attractions.

A replica of the Sakakawea statue is also on display at the U.S. Capitol.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2011 in Attractions, Events, History

 

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And a great partnership sprang forward

I’m going to take you back to October 25, 1804.  The Lewis & Clark Expedition set out early under a gentle breeze, passing deserted villages of the Mandan before finally encountering several parties.  Corps member Gass wrote, “A great many of the natives, some on horseback and some on foot appeared on the hills on the north side, hallooing and singing.”

In the book, A Vast and Open Plain, editors note that the curiosity of the Mandans and Hidatsas were well known, and their apparent joy on the arrival of the Corps of Discovery was not unique.

The Corps found a place to bring boats to shore and camp, but it wasn’t until November 2, 1804 when the eventual location of Fort Mandan was chosen.  Today, visitors are welcome to tour reconstructed Fort Mandan and a beautiful Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center near Washburn – showcasing many unique artifacts and premiere history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Attractions, History

 

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Jean Baptiste Charbonneau – the youngest member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition

On February 11, 1805, Captain Meriwether Lewis wrote: ” … about five oclock this evening one of the wives of Charbono was delivered of a fine boy.”  This was the first journal entry of the infant, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who would become the youngest member of the Corp of Discovery.  Charbonneau traveled from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean and back as an infant, carried along in the expedition’s boats or upon his mother’s back.

Charbonneau’s image can be found on the Sakakawea dollar.  He is the only child ever depicted on U.S. currency.

The majesty of the Lewis & Clark Expedition can be discovered in North Dakota, at Fort Mandan and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center – along with many other historical sites along the Lewis & Clark Trail in ND.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Attractions, History, North Dakota Buzz

 

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