Need to Visit My 50th State: North Dakota

North Dakota, inspire me. Image: Wikimedia Commons by user TUBS via CC BY-SA 3.0
North Dakota, inspire me. Image: Wikimedia Commons by user TUBS via CC BY-SA 3.0

This summer my family and I have done quite a bit of travel. In fact, we recently wrapped up an Alaskan cruise that included driving from Colorado to our cruise port in Vancouver, British Columbia. And back. At the tune of 1500 miles and 2 days in each direction.

There were numerous benefits to our driving instead of flying to include the cost savings and the ability to be liberal with our packing since we didn’t have to pay extra to check luggage for a flight. Obviously driving took more time but we looked forward to seeing a new part of the country: the Pacific Northwest.

The most appealing reason for my husband and me was the chance to “check off” more states. Before the road trip, my husband had been to 48 of our 50 states (all but Oregon and Alaska), while I had been to 47 of them.

By the end of our cruise, my husband could claim having visited all 50 states in the union**. However, I remain at 49 and I am flummoxed at how to check off that 50th state.

I need a reason to visit North Dakota. And so far I’m coming up short.

I don’t know anyone who has vacationed in North Dakota. I’m sure there are plenty of parks to see, but I don’t hear about them the way I hear about the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, or even Lake Okoboji in Iowa! I know people who deliberately plan vacations to those places.

In addition, the weather makes it tricky to visit. The climate is pretty extreme, with snow possible any time of year.

I don’t even know many people from North Dakota. I’m close enough to two people to ask them specifically how to plan a trip so I can say I’ve visited all 50 states. They each suggested parts of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which happens to be in the southwest corner of the state—closest to my home in Colorado. That part of the state has petrified forest, badlands, and ancient glacial lakes. I’m sure it’s worth visiting!

Ironically, I have a friend here who also wants to check North Dakota off her list. As a fellow military spouse, she also has visited the other 49 states. We are discussing a road trip this fall just to the “Welcome to North Dakota” sign on U.S. Highway 85, which is about a 9 hour drive. But frankly I think it’d be a more fruitful visit if we find something to do or see there.

If you have suggestions about what I could do on a short road trip to North Dakota, feel free to comment below!

**Our definition of “visiting” can include merely driving through a particular state, but we didn’t count air travel layovers.

Patricia Vollmer is a geeky meteorologist mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 11 & 14. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.