The Roundup -

Enjoy Family Vacation Fun


Overlooking the beautiful badlands. Families should consider taking a vaction to North Dakota. (Photo by Meagan Dotson)

Last summer I planned a trip to neighboring North Dakota and honestly felt a bit ashamed of myself for not having an adventure in this legendary state sooner. Better late than never I suppose, but I can say it was one of our best vacations and we will be returning to do some camping this summer.

We spent part of our first day in Medora, checking out the unique little tourist town, filling up on delicious food, and doing a little shopping. This is home to the well-known Medora Musical and Pitchfork Fondue.

After that we visited Painted Canyon Overlook before taking the Scenic Loop, a 36-mile drive through the South Unit of the park; turnouts are located all along the loop where visitors can stop and look around. We stopped at Scoria Overlook, Badlands Overlook, and Boicourt Overlook, which also has a handicapped accessible walking trail.

The vast beauty of the badlands is spectacular, and the wildlife is pretty amazing, too. The bison were my favorite, especially the calves. We had to stop on the road for a while as they milled around the vehicles; clearly we were little more than day-trippers in their space.

My kids enjoyed the prairie dog towns and I suppose the little ground-rats can be somewhat endearing if you watch them long enough.

The park is home to lots of other wildlife such as coyotes, elk, white tail and mule deer, feral horses, pronghorns, several types of snakes and lizards, and well over 100 different bird species.

The following day we ventured off I-94 and took a trip down the Enchanted Highway. The 32-mile highway between towns Gladstone and Regent entice travelers with their giant iron artistry. Gary Greff, who is a retired school teacher and Regent native, saw the small town of Regent in trouble, being 30 miles from the nearest major town. Construction of the seven iron sculptures began in 1990 as a way to draw people from the interstate. The sculptures include Geese in Flight, A Covey of Pheasants, World's Largest Grasshopper, Deer Crossing, Fisherman's Dream, Teddy Roosevelt, and Tin Family. There are picnic tables and plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

Fisherman's Dream is just one of 7 iron sculptures along the Enchanted Highway. (Photo by Meagan Dotson)

Another highlight of the trip was a quick stop at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, located 7 miles south of Mandan. There we got to tour the reconstructed On-A-Slant Indian Village. The earth lodges portray what life was like along the Missouri River for the Mandan people, who lived at this location for more than 200 years.

We wrapped up the weekend vacation with a Lewis & Clark Riverboat Tour down the Missouri River. Beginning and finishing at the Port of Bismarck, there was seating both on top of and inside the boat, with space to stand outside as well. Taking in the beautiful sunset on the water was a relaxing way to end the trip.

There is so much to see and do that we just didn't have time for all of it. What a perfect reason to go back and have another adventure this summer.


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