As we traveled into eastern North Dakota from Minnesota on our first day, we immediately noticed a change in the landscape – from lush forests to flat farmland. I will admit to seeing all three seasons of Fargo and hate to disappoint, but it is not all snowy murder here!
However, the dog-friendly Fargo Visitors Center does have a great sense of humor about the show that made them (in)famous. They have the wood chipper from the original movie on display and actively encourage dramatic reenactments of the final key scene with props! (They also offer free popcorn!)
After our macabre make-believe, we continued our visit in Fargo at Bonanzaville USA. We were delighted to discover that the museum was also dog-friendly – Chips first museum!
We cannot recommend this place enough. The museum consists of dozens of authentic North Dakotan houses and buildings collected from multiple time periods with good audio explanations.
Beyond that, the museum also houses an incredible collection of antique cars, tractors, and planes!
For the evening, we stayed at a local Harvest Host, the wonderful 4e Winery. Our hosts even invited us in for a delicious homegrown meal!
On our second day, we continued west towards Bismarck. En route, we stopped to view the World’s Largest Bison (pronounced bi-zen in North Dakota).
The statue is also surrounded by a pioneer village (free of charge) similar to that found at Bonanzaville, USA. Definitely worth a stop!
As we drove into Bismarck, we stopped at Chief Lookings Village, once the home of a Mandan Native American Village overlooking the stunning Missouri River with steep drop offs. The area features a short interpretive trail.
To finish our day, we hiked the 9 mile Harmon Lake Trail around Harmon Lake. The hike was much tougher than we anticipated for such low elevation change because it was primarily in the open (fairly hot) sun. However, the views were beautiful!
We stayed the night with a delightful Boondockers Welcome host! North Dakotans have been SUPER nice! They even gave us some delicious cheese cake!
Here, we hiked their interpretive loop around the old fort bastions with splendid views of the Missouri.
Next, we continued south to Cannon Ball, ND to start the Standing Rock National Native American Scenic Byway. The scenic byway stretches about 80 miles along the eastern border of the Standing Rock Reservation.
Cannon Ball is named as such due to the cannonball like stones found there along the river.
We next stopped at Prairie Knights Marina to hike the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail.
Other important sites we visited along the route included both the original and current burial sites for Sitting Bull, as well as a Sacakawea Monument.
For the evening, we drove to Harried, South Dakota (just on the border of North Dakota with population 400). We were fortunate to have timed it just right to see an authentic RODEO!
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