North Dakota Road Trips

The Most Scenic Drives in North Dakota

North Dakota road trips showcase the Great Plains as the perfect tapestry upon which to drive and observe this unique landscape. The Midwestern state has dramatic scenery that changes throughout the state, especially in the Badlands area.

There are a mixture of lakes, forests and superb national parks on this list which are all top spots to stop off and absorb the natural beauty of the state. The routes are all relatively short so make ideal day trips with a couple of stops along the way to enjoy the local food. The Interstate 94 trip is a little longer, so perfect to turn into a long weekend with friends or family.

The Best North Dakota Road Trips

1. Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway

Winding along the Sheyenne River in the southeastern corner of North Dakota, the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway passes by rolling hills, pretty farmlands, small towns and historic sites. Starting north of Valley City and heading south to Kathryn, Fort Ransom and Lisbon you will learn about the history, culture, wildlife, archaeology and geology of the region.

Distance: 63 miles

Route highlights: Sheyenne River; Kathryn; Valley City; Fort Ransom State Park

When to do it: Year-round

Photo cred: jensenairllc


2. Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway

Is this the most scenic drive in western North Dakota? We’re going to say yes! From the Killdeer Mountains to the deeply entrenched Little Missouri River Breaks and Badlands, the scenery is enchanting. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to discover the rich culture and history of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes along with the cowboy and rodeo lifestyles in the area.

Distance: 71 miles

Route highlights: Crow Flies High Butte Overlook; Four Bears Museum; Little Missouri State Park; Killdeer Battlefield State Historic Site

When to do it: Year-round

Photo cred: minxnd


3. Enchanted Highway

Home to a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures, the aptly named Enchanted Highway (dreamed up in 1989 by local artist, Gary Greff) is a whimsical drive with cute picnic areas to stop off at along the road. Sculptures include “World’s Largest Tin Family,” “Teddy Rides Again,” “Pheasants on the Prairie,” “Grasshoppers in the Field,” “Deer Crossing” and “Fisherman’s Dream.”

Distance: 31 miles

Route highlights: Geese in Flight; Hettinger County Historical Society Museum

When to do it: Year-round

Photo cred: emilymcreech


4. Interstate 94 Tour

From the pancake-flat Red River valley in the east, through rolling hills of the central part of the state and finally the rugged Badlands of the west, this is the ultimate road trip route to best experience all of North Dakota. Highlights include Frontier Village, an 1880s-style prairie town, and the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Distance: 144 miles

Route highlights: Downtown Fargo; Rosebud Visitors Center; Bismarck-Mandan Area; Theodore Roosevelt National Park

When to do it: Spring-Summer

Photo cred: bethanybymanblog


5. Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge

This is the perfect drive for wildlife lovers, with plenty of bird watching photo ops along the route! Arrowwood’s 16,000 acres of lakes, marshes, prairie grasslands, wooded coulees and fields make it a perfect venue for wildlife viewing and birding. The roads open for public travel are the auto tour route and the entrance road to the Warbler Woodland Watchable Wildlife Area.

Distance: 28 miles

Route highlights: Carrington; Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge; Arrowwood Lake

When to do it: Year-round

Photo cred: northdakotalegendary


6. Chan SanSan Scenic Backway

South of Jamestown, starting in Adrian, this scenic backway highlights the beautiful James River Valley. When you descend to the valley, you will immediately see the panorama of a winding river surrounded by tall grass prairie and wildflowers. This area is rich in Indian history, earthen mounds, early settlement and scenic beauty.

Distance: 38 miles

Route highlights: LaMoure; James River; Toy Farmers Museum

When to do it: Spring and Summer

Photo cred: ttkleinn


7. Lake Metigoshe State Park

Nestled in the scenic Turtle Mountains along the U.S./Canadian border, Lake Metigoshe is one of the most popular year-round vacation spots in North Dakota. The drive into and around the park is beautiful, but for the full experience you’ll need to hop out of the car and hit the trails. There’s canoeing or kayaking on the lake, and you might even spot some wild moose!

Distance: 17 miles

Route highlights: Turtle Mountains; Duck lake; Bottineau Area

When to do it: Year-round

Photo cred: lakemetigoshestatepark


If you are spending time in the state check out The 7 Best Pizzas In North Dakota.