Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Off the beaten path...

Posted 7/12/17 (Wed)

Now that it’s summer, we all want to get out and get some sunshine and see some of the sights.

There are a lot of places to see in North Dakota, which is the 17th largest state geographically.

Many of the sites like Devils Lake and Icelandic State Park are well advertised by the Tourism Department, and are great to visit, but there are other, not so well known places that are just as intriguing.

If you are so inclined to travel North Dakota, you can find some treasures out there.

Following is a list of 10 places you may or may not know about that you really should visit before it gets too cold.

1.) Pembina Gorge: This is my favorite place in North Dakota. There is so much to see and do that you wouldn’t be able to do it one or two days.

It crosses the Canadian border near Walhalla and follows a southeaterly azimuth. It’s a deep “gorge” that has numerous hiking trails, deep woods and unlimited wildlife.

Streams and rivers, bridges, steep hills, embankments and obscure dirt roads need to be explored at your earliest convenience.

There have been stories of wild boars running loose in the gorge and elk grazing on the plateaus. This place has dinosaur bones and rocks that tell the story of glacial activity.

It also has some incredible overlooks as well as Frost Fire Mountain, a popular ski resort and summer theater.

2.) Strawberry Lake: Another lake, right down the road gets all the attention in Bottineau County. Strawberry Lake’s surroundings are just like Lake Metigoshe, except that it isn’t crowded. It’s very peaceful and quiet and gets really dark late at night. If it’s a clear night, you will see the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky.

3.) Hazelton Boat Dock: This is a little hidden gem on the Missouri River facing west that is just wonderful in the evenings as the sun is setting. The water on the river “sparkles” as the sunlight reflects off the waves. Did I mention it is an outstanding fishing spot?

4.) Fort Ransom: I’m not necessarily talking about the historic fort called Fort Ransom, although it’s a must see for history buffs. This is about the small community of Fort Ransom that is nestled into the Sheyenne River Valley south of Valley City. It’s a great place to visit in any season, winter included, but it’s best show is in the fall when the leaves are changing color. In fact, there’s a scenic backway that starts in Valley City and takes you all the way to Fort Ransom.

5.) Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Incredible scenery anytime of year, the park has done an outstanding job of keeping it pristine and just the way Roosevelt saw it. From Watford City to Medora, the natural beauty is breathtaking and even though many of us keep going back, we never get tired of the Badlands.

6.) St. John: On the surface, this small, North Dakota town seems like any other. But just two miles from the Canadian border in North Dakota’s thickest birch forest, the fall scenery at St. John is second to none. It’s great in the summer too because the trees are thick enough that it’s more like the woods of northern Minnesota near Roseau than it is North Dakota. Many of us ask why can’t more of North Dakota be that way?

It’s also steeped in little-known history. According to Metis records, Canada’s most notorious bandit, Louis Riel, stayed in St. John.

7.) Downtown Devils Lake: Much of the architecture is like downtown Fargo, but it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Fargo. There are numerous little shops as you stroll down the sidewalk. It used to be a run-down, inner city, but that was 30 years ago. Now, it’s clean and easy to navigate and is beginning to draw tourists for a bold cup of fresh brewed coffee or a cold afternoon beer.

8.) Kimball Bottoms: This is an area south of Bismarck along the Missouri River that is notorious for keg parties. That’s at night. In the daytime, it’s about as close to Baja California as you’ll find in North Dakota. If you are an ATV enthusiast, you will love this place. It’s perfect for ATVs and dirt bikes.

9.) Pembina: Here is where the  Pembina and Red rivers meet. As you might imagine, it isn’t a lot of space, but when you’re here you can just feel the history. This is where North Dakota began, 220 years ago when forts were established.

10.) White Butte: It’s the highest point in North Dakota. Essentially in the middle of nowhere, White Butte, near Amidon, juts out from the prairie like a sore thumb. It’s a challenge to climb and if you get to the top, you can see into Montana and South Dakota.