Scenic vistas in North Dakota
By Charlotte Flach
With panoramic views stretching as far as the eye can see, North Dakota is anything but flat. Here are six of the best, and most inspiring, vantage points
White Horse Hill
Home to the Spirit Lake Tribe, the White Horse Hill nature reserve sits on the shores of Devil’s Lake in Benson County. The park was renamed in 2019 by an act of Congress, to honour its sacred meaning to its indigenous inhabitants. The reservation’s rolling grass prairie, sprawling marshes and wooded hills are also home to an array of wildlife such as bison, elk, white-tailed deer and a colony of prairie dogs.
Fort Abraham Lincoln
The riverbanks of the Heart and Missouri river offer the perfect terrain for horse riding, hiking and biking. Once the home of the Mandan Native Americans, reconstructed earthlodges tell the story of these tribesmen. Meanwhile, the barracks of old Fort Abraham Lincoln and Fort McKeen reveal life as a frontier soldier, as guests participate in a living history tour of the commanding officer’s quarters.
Steep valley cliffs tower over the isolated wetlands, atmospheric prairie and undisturbed forests of Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area. The gorge and winding river itself is best explored by kayak but can also be traversed by land on an ATV, dirt bike or horseback. Elk can be spotted roaming the 2,800 acres of public land. Take a pit stop at the Walhalla Country Club for refreshments.
A solitary stone structure provides shelter from the elements at Riverbend Overlook in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Built in around 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this outpost stands overlooking the sublime landscape of the Little Missouri River valley below. It is just one example of the projects created by the CCC on land that would eventually become part of the national park.
According to Roosevelt, the Little Missouri Badlands are “a land of vast and silent spaces.” When glimpsed from Boicourt Overlook the landscape seems to stretch out infinitely, with views reaching beyond the boundaries of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. An additional unpaved section of Boicourt Trail can be hiked to take advantage of a second overlook. Hikers often spot bison grazing on the prairie below.
Crow Flies High Butte
First used as a lookout by U.S. army Lieutenant and explorer William Clark when waiting to reunite with his friend Meriwether Lewis, the butte is famed for its breathtaking view of Lake Sakakawea, Badlands bluffs and the foundations of the underwater town of Sanish. The park takes its name from Hidatsu Indian chief Crow Flies High, whose tribe have lived on North Dakota lands since the 13th century.