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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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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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