Fargo, a city in central North Dakota, is home to three major universities. With those universities comes a broad range of students, who bring with them a variety of cultural and entertainment needs. To support that, Fargo is well known as a cultural and entertainment hub for the area. From a cultural standpoint, a stop at Bonanzaville USA is a great place to start. This site is a historical park established by the Cass County Historical Society. It includes a museum and a pioneer village with approximately 46 historical buildings dating back to the mid-1800s. Bonanzaville paints an excellent picture of how people lived in the area during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Another great stop is the Plains Art Museum. This museum houses a large collection of art including a large collection of traditional, contemporary and modern Native American art. While those collections are the main attraction here there is also a good number of pieces that fall in the more traditional categories of general contemporary, modern and post-modern, photography and regional works. The museum makes for a great afternoon of browsing on your own, or you can take an official tour which is guided by a knowledgeable staff member who provides interesting background information of the pieces in the collection.
For entertainment, you can't beat a stop at the Historic Fargo Theater. This art deco designed movie house was originally constructed in 1925 and had a full restoration in 1999. Today, the theater acts as a movie house as well as a theater for live performers. They also host a number of events throughout the year including the Fargo Film Festival and others.
The historic downtown district also provides great dining, shopping, entertainment and nightlife opportunities. There are many great restaurants, boutique shops, coffee shops and great architecture in the area. To get a feel of what you'll find there, check out this tour.
The trip to Billings, MT is very easy and fairly flat. Simply take I-94 west into Montana. I-94 west will terminate into I-90 west which will take you to Billings. Much of the trip is crossing the Northern Great Plains. The views are stunning, but the winds can be brisk and gusty. If you're traveling in a large vehicle be prepared for those winds. Keeping your speed down helps a lot, particularly if you are towing a trailer.
The National Buffalo Museum is located in the Frontier Village area of Jamestown, ND. Adjacent to the world's largest buffalo statue is the 6,000 square foot museum housed in an old log style building. The museum houses exhibits dedicated to teaching visitors about the history of bison and Native American cultures, the near extinction of the species and the restoration of the herds that have brought them back.
The museum also maintains a small herd of bison numbering around 25 – 30 animals. The bison roam a large pasture area adjacent to I-94 and can often be seen from the highway as they graze the area.
Finally, there is a very nice gift shop where you can pick up a wide variety of buffalo related products to commemorate your stop here.
Frontier Fort Campground is a great place to stay in an RV or tent. It is located with easy access to both I-94 and the Frontier Village area.
The Enchanted Highway is a 32 mile stretch of road starting in Regent, SD and ending at the Gladstone exit of I-94. It is considered the world's largest scrap metal sculpture and it features eight independent metal sculptures built up along the highway. The creator, Regent native Gary Greff, completed construction on the first sculpture, The Tin Family, in 1991 and continues to work on them to this day. Some of the highlights include Pheasants on the Prairie, Geese in Flight, and Fisherman's Dream. Of these, Geese in Flight is of particular note because it has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world. As a collection, these combine to make the highway one of National Geographic's top 10 US roadside attractions.
North Park Campground is the closest campground to the I-94 exit for the Enchanted Highway. It's located about 14 miles further west just off of I-94.
Because of its location outside the major US travel corridors, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a lightly trafficked national park. This is unfortunate because it is an amazing place to visit, often referred to as “The Badlands of North Dakota”.
The park is broken up into three major sections. The Painted Canyon area is accessible via a rest stop area off of I-94. There is a great visitors center here and the Painted Canyon Trail makes for a fun hike – especially if you go on the ranger-guided tour. The ranger is very informative and does a great job pointing out the unique features of the area.
The South Unit of the park is the main part of the park. The entrance is about eight miles west off of I-94 in Medora. Here you'll find a great visitor center, one of Theodore Roosevelt's cabins and access to the loop road that runs through the park. If you drive the loop road you'll find several short hikes along the road which allow you to get out and admire the scenery. In addition to the scenery there is a lot of great wildlife to see including bison, prairie dogs, and wild horses.
The North Unit of the park is about an hour's drive north on RT-85 from the South Unit. This section is very remote and a great place to go hiking where you can enjoy nature with little chance of running into crowds of people. One of the best hikes here is the four-mile moderate-intensity Caprock Coulee Trail. It has it all: sections along the river valley and sweeping ridge top vista views. The least strenuous route is to hike the loop counterclockwise.
Red Trail Campground is the best place to stay in the area. The campground itself is very tight so it can be difficult to navigate and park a big rig. It can also get very crowded during the busy season. However, the staff is very helpful and the location can't be beat. The park entrance is just a short drive away and the historic town of Medora is just a short walk. If you stay here, definitely take some time to go out and walk the town, it's beautiful. The Little Missouri Saloon and Dining Room makes a killer burger, Badlands Pizza Parlor makes a great pie and you can't beat ice cream at Hatlee and Brae.
Also in Medora is the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Located on the northwest corner of town, this is a great place to get a taste of the history and cowboy lifestyle of North Dakota as it relates to the Native Americans, rodeos, and ranching in the state. Here you'll find a broad range of artifacts that promote and honor the western heritage of the state spread out over 15,000 square feet of permanent and traveling exhibits.
In addition to the many exhibits, the hall of fame also hosts a number of events during the year for occasions like the National Day of the Cowboy, Day of the Great Plains Horse People, Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas and much more. They also sponsor a number of outreach programs held throughout the area. Finally, there is a gift shop which makes for a great stop to pick up some memorabilia to commemorate your visit here.
Billings, MT is a great small city in the foothills of the Montana Rocky Mountains. It has a frontier town feeling and the flatter surroundings provide for the “Big Sky” environment that this area and points east are famous for. It's a laid back city with many great things to do.
One of the best things is to drive the Beartooth Highway, also known as US-212. This one of the greatest scenic highways in America which leads to the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. From Billings, the trip to the Yellowstone entrance will take at least three hours, longer if you stop to hike or take in any of the sites. The route is mountainous and considered a difficult drive in an RV. If you can, leave the RV at the campground and take your toad or tow vehicle.
Pictograph Cave State Park is an awesome park that is a great place to experience the beauty of the area. It located just outside the city and is home to three caves you can explore. Each of the caves has pictographs painted on the walls by the ancient inhabitants of the area. There are ranger-led tours that do a great job showing off the art and explaining the significance of the caves to the local area.
All the outdoor activities in the area can work up quite an appetite which can be satisfied at Montana's Rib and Chop House. This highly rated family-friendly spot is popular with both tourists and locals. It's one of the best places in town for a great steak which is the official food of the wild west.
The Billings KOA Holiday is the best place to stay near town. It is located southeast of the city just off of I-90 on the banks of the Yellowstone River. They have several RV sites, tent sites and cabins available if you are traveling by car.