Traveling in North Dakota

North Dakota

I’ve always viewed North Dakota as one of America’s most rural and most difficult states to reach, and when it was time for me to finally visit I found out I was right. Flights from Washington DC to North Dakota were nearly the same price as a flight from DC to China! And with no offense to North Dakota, but it’s certainly not high on many people’s travel list, probably except for people like me who are trying to visit all the 50 states. The trick to reaching North Dakota is to either be rich or fly to a nearby state which is much cheaper and drive the rest of the way to North Dakota. On this trip I only had time to visit Fargo, but later I plan to visit the capital of Bismarck in the center of the state, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where the former president often visited and spent the final years of his life in the western part of the state.
North Dakota Fargo Downtown North Dakota Fargo Broadway
Most people know Fargo from the movie with the same name that was released in the 1990s. That movie actually wasn’t recorded in the state, so the photos above will show you what Fargo really looks like. This area is the downtown of North Dakota’s largest city towards the end of July. Fargo’s city limits doesn’t even reach 100,000, but the metro area which includes Minnesota’s city of Moorhead pushes the area’s population to over 200,000.
North Dakota Fargo Buffalo Painted North Dakota Fargo Bike Shop

For such a small city, there are a fair amount of things to do here. The downtown area goes on for several blocks and there are several free museums. Above is one of the many painted buffaloes that I saw in the city, these reminded me of the painted moose I saw in Burlington Vermont. On the right is an advertisement for a bicycle shop, a good way to explore this city in the summer, not so good for the winter.
North Dakota Fargo Church North Dakota Fargo Apartments
Here are two photos also from downtown North Dakota, the Gothic cathedral on the left was built in Fargo in 1899 on Broadway. On the right are some type of apartments.
North Dakota Fargo Hotel Bison North Dakota Fargo Train Depot
The old painting of the hotel bison still remains on the brick wall to the left, I thought the hotel sign might have been pretty old, but it actually only dates back to the 1970s! Although the Fargo railway isn’t very old, at least it has another hundred years of the bison hotel.
North Dakota Fargo Northern Railway North Dakota Fargo Train
Even today in the 21st century, Fargo is a pretty remote city, with the closest other metropolitan area being Minneapolis which is a four hour drive. Before cars and planes became popular ways for travel, train was the only reasonable way to reach Fargo. From 1890 to 1970, the great northern railway operated in northern America, connecting Minneapolis all the way west to the Pacific Ocean. Today most rail is operated by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway which covers most of America west of the Mississippi.
North Dakota Fargo Bonanzaville Cabin North Dakota Fargo Bonanzaville Cabin Inside
One of Fargo’s most interesting places is Bonanzaville which is located on the western outskirts of the city. It’s pretty much a rebuilt village that shows the early life in North Dakota has plenty of historic artifacts and buildings such as the first home in Fargo on the upper left. Most of the early residents in North Dakota were Finnish settlers, I suppose they were used to the cold weather and enjoyed all the open land here.
Bonanzaville Cabin Inside Bonanzaville Carriages
North Dakota Fargo University Entrance North Dakota Fargo University
Back to the modern part of Fargo, the university actually is a place of entertainment for many in the city. The Fargo dome which is part of the university holds a capacity of 25,000 people and is where most concerts are played in the city. I did pass through the west acres mall which is average by most standards but is the largest mall in the state. While I was in there the kid on the lower right asked me to take his picture, so there is a real local North Dakotan.
North Dakota Fargo Dome Fargo Kid
North Dakota Farmland North Dakota Speed Limit
Most highway speed limits on the east coast where I live are around 55 to 65mph, in North Dakota since there is so little population and with nothing but farms and flat terrain, the speed limit is 75. It seemed to be pretty acceptable to drive over the speed limit here, or maybe I just got lucky and didn’t get a ticket. I heard in Montana they have a deal where this is no speed limit in the day time, no idea of that is true though.
North Dakota Farm VehiclesTown Post Office

Above is a farmer who has a large piece of property and quite a large collection of old rusty antique cars. On the right is the actual post office from one of the many small towns I passed through, just a trailer! Hard to imagine what people do for fun here.
North Dakota Silo Train North Dakota Farm Silos
I’ve seen many farming towns throughout the world of course, but what impressed me about North Dakota was the giant silos that they have. I’m not sure what is stored here in these, but they are by far the largest I’ve ever seen. I also thought it was interesting how the railway passes right by them some of them by only a few feet.
North Dakota Grasslands North Dakota KVLY Mast
Most of North Dakota is made up of empty endless plains, so I decided to visit the Sheyenne National Grasslands who I felt had scammed me. On most maps, these grasslands take up a large area and are marked by signs along the road so it gives you the impression you’re entering some enormous nature preserve full of beauty and wildlife. There are places to go hiking and enjoy the scenery, but I felt like the far majority of the Sheyenne grasslands were taken up by small towns, farms and whatever natural areas I found had several no trespassing signs. My other photo on the right is north of Fargo, and until the Burj Khalifa in UAE was built, the KVLY TV mast was actually the tallest man made structure on earth! It was built way back in 1963 and is currently the second tallest structure in the world.