Top 10 Landmarks in North Dakota

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 08:36 am. Originally published on May 12th, 2021

What is a Landmark?

Remote and sparsely populated, much of North Dakota is considered a “flyover” by many — but those folks are unfortunately mistaken. There’s a rich network of cultural, historical, and natural landmarks in North Dakota: places that offer experiences you just can’t have anywhere else on the face of the planet.

What are Some Famous Landmarks in North Dakota?

1. Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

2. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

3. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

4. North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum

5. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

6. Huff Archeological Site

7. Fargo Air Museum

8. Plains Art Museum

9. Red River Zoo

10. Bagg Bonanza Farm

North Dakota Landmarks

From important archeological digs that help us learn more about the past to the incredible natural landscapes we’ve preserved for future generations (and much more in between), here are some absolutely unmissable landmarks in North Dakota!

1. Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

historic Fort Union Trading Post interior and native american teepee

Tucked about two miles away from where the mighty Missouri River intersects its tributary, the Yellowstone River, Fort Union was the most important fur trading site in the region from 1829 to 1867 — and today, visitors to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site can experience a partial reconstruction of the place. Designated in 1961 and designed based off both archeological findings and drawings by folks who lived in those times, the site is today an interpretation of what plains travelers might have come across here in 1851. Along with preserving this part of European settler history, the park is also home to a stunning collection of Native American art and offers Junior Ranger activities for young visitors.

Things to do near Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site: Located just this side of the Montana border, this landmark is in a remote but beautiful location and a short distance from other road-trip-worthy sites, such as Fort Buford State Historic Site and Lewis and Clark State Park, a great camping option only an hour away. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals to browse!

2. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Sunrise over Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

If you truly want to find a home (away from home) where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play, you need to pay a visit to western North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It may not be one of the best-known NPS properties, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful: bison, elk and prairie dogs meander through the park’s three distinct sections, which are interconnected by the Little Missouri River. In fact, the landscape is so inspiring, it caused Teddy Roosevelt himself, who showed up in 1883 to hunt bison, to pour his heart and eventual presidential policy into conservation efforts. Long story short, you’ve got to see it for yourself.

Things to do near Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Located in the west-central part of the state close to the main thoroughfare that is I-94, this park is quite remote… but still only a two-hour drive from the urban resources of Bismarck. If you can’t score a campsite on the national park property, other local wildernesses like Sully Creek State Park might have you covered. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals for the trip.

3. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota, USA, 08-16-2018

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site covers just under 1,800 acres of land that were once home to bands of bands of Hidatsa Northern Plains Indians, who flourished here until a series of smallpox outbreaks decimated the population in 1837. These outbreaks were a direct result of contact with the Lewis and Clark expedition and had a 90% death rate among the Mandan people. Survivors eventually moved north and settled a new village in another part of North Dakota, which they named Like-a-Fishhook. Sakakawea — who you may better know as Sacagawea, the Native American mother who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their journey — lived in one of these villages for a time. This landmark and national historic site is an important one to add to your list to gain a better understanding of the whole of our nation’s history.

Things to do near the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site: Just north of the small town of Stanton and only about an hour northwest of Bismarck, this destination landmark is within a stone’s throw of many state parks and wildernesses, such as Fahlgren Park State Recreation Area, Cross Ranch State Park, and Fort Stevenson State Park. Plus, there are plenty of local RVshare rentals to choose from for your journey!

4. North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA - JULY 18: North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum on July 18, 2017 in Bismarck, North Dakota

Once you arrive in Bismarck, a bevy of urban adventures awaits you — not the least of which is the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The largest museum in the entire state of North Dakota, this institution is actually made up of four museum galleries that preserve and interpret the state’s history, starting with its geological formation more than 600 million years ago and following its cultural and historical journey since then. The museum boasts both permanent collections and rotating exhibits, all of which paint a comprehensive picture of North Dakota, giving visitors the opportunity to get better acquainted with the state whether they’re lifetime residents or mere weekend visitors.

Things to do near the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum: Given its location just steps away from the capitol building in the heart of Bismarck, pair this museum with a visit to nearby Lions Park or the Hillside Aquatic Complex if you’re visiting in summer. There are also some incredible RV campgrounds in the area — and, of course, RVshare rentals to travel in.

5. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

A reconstructed infantry blockhouse on the open priarie in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. It is a North Dakota state park located 7 miles south of Mandan, North Dakota

Established back in 1907, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park enjoys the distinction of being the oldest state park in all of North Dakota, and its location immediately south of Bismarck makes it convenient for many travelers. While the park offers a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities and adventure opportunities, the star of the show is its namesake fort, a reconstruction of a military post headed by General Custer himself. (There’s also a reproduction of his home.) Because this outpost was set on the grounds that had once been inhabited by Native Americans, who fled after experiencing dramatic population loss due to smallpox, the park also offers plenty of insight into the lives of the Indians who called this place home first, including a reconstruction of the earthlodges that made up On-a-Slant Village.

Things to do near Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park: Within a 20-minute drive of Bismarck, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is easy to reach for those staying in town and also offers lodging accommodations for those who want to escape the urban hustle-bustle. Other options include area RV parks — and these RVshare vehicles, which are both cozy and affordable!

6. Huff Archeological Site

Site of a former Mandan Indian village, Huff, North Dakota, USA, on the National Register of Historic Places.
By Plazak – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10256694

Close to the bank of the Missouri River in the south-central part of North Dakota, the Huff Archeological Site is one of the best-preserved prehistoric Mandan villages in the world, which was occupied starting around 1450 AD until approximately 200 years before Europeans came to these lands. The rectangular village included hundreds of lodges and was surrounded by a ditch, indicating those who lived here faced conflict — there is also evidence of defensive bastions and fortifications. Visitors today can still see much of the layout of the settlement, and interpretive signage makes self-guided walking tours possible.

Things to do near the Huff Archeological Site: Another North Dakota historic landmark just a few miles outside of Bismarck, this one’s worth adding to your itinerary if you’re anywhere near town. Once again, here are some local RV campgrounds and also RVshare rentals to consider for your journey!

7. Fargo Air Museum

Among other artifacts at the Fargo Air Museum, the Wright Brothers Flyer is on rotating display.

Journey further east along the plains, and you’ll find yourself at a museum of, well, planes — the kind that soar through the air! The two landmark hangars at the Fargo Air Museum contain a rotating selection of aircraft to get up, close, and personal with, from the Wright Brothers’ flyer to much more recent contributions to aviation history. The site also hosts educational speakers, day-camps, seminars, and tours, as well as boasting one of the largest aviation libraries in all of the midwest. The majority of the planes exhibited here still do fly, and group tours with veteran pilots are available (though you’re also welcome to wander). Either way, you’re bound to learn some exciting new facts about the miracle of human flight.

Things to do near the Fargo Air Museum: As its name suggests, this world-class museum is located within the boundaries of Fargo, North Dakota, a sprawling city with many things to see, do, eat and experience. In particular, visitors to the air museum will be just a block away from North Dakota State University; here are some local RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider.

8. Plains Art Museum

Main entrance to the Plains Art Museum
By AJ LEON – Flickr: Epic Train Ride – Fargo, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16893929

Another Fargo treasure, the Plains Art Museum is a repository of art objects from both local and international artists, which also has a special focus on regional Native American works and artifacts. Both permanent and rotating collections draw thousands of visitors annually, as do the gardens and grounds that offer beautiful, well-manicured flora, sculptural installations, and space for the many public events the museum hosts. Youth, adult, and family-oriented classes are also available to help you get hands-on with the creative process. This museum is truly an important part of Fargo’s community, and a landmark you don’t want to miss out on!

Things to do near the Plains Art Museum: Located in Fargo‘s happening downtown area, the Plains Art Museum is only steps away from the popular walking district on Broadway, which offers plenty of coffee shops, bars, restaurants and shops. Need to get away from it all? Fort Ransom State Park is just a short drive away but will bring you wide-open-spaces solitude. Here are some local RVshare rentals for the ride.

9. Red River Zoo

Red pandas are among the many species on display at Red River Zoo.

While it’s not the largest zoo in the state — that honor belongs to Bimarck’s Dakota Zoo — the Red River Zoo is a very special place for animal lovers. That’s because it specialized in the care and keeping of some of the rarest cold-climate species on earth, such as the sichuan takin, grey wolf,  pallas cat and more. Visitors get the opportunity to learn more about these unique species while also knowing their admission costs go toward their support and care, and special animal encounters are also available to help you get even more up close and personal with certain critters, including the adorable red panda! Educational programs and classes are also available for dedicated animal enthusiasts and conservationists.

Things to do near Red River Zoo: Immediately adjacent to Fargo‘s Anderson Park, Red River Zoo makes for a great half-day in the city — and thanks to its limited size and scope can easily be paired with other must-sees such as the Roger Maris Museum. Here are some nearby RVshare rentals and campgrounds to consider to help you get settled in town!

10. Bagg Bonanza Farm

Frederick A. and Sophia Bagg Bonanza Farm
By Tallmikejensen4320 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53413954

Today, the extreme southeastern tip of North Dakota may seem desolate and even barren to the untrained eye — but in the early 20th century, these lands were cultivated into one of the most productive farms in U.S. history. Owned by Frederick A. and Sophia Bagg and known today as the Bagg Bonanza Farm, this site encompasses about 7,000 acres and between 1915 and 1935 operated with factory-like precision and output. Designated both a national historic landmark and earning a place on the national register of historic places, this farm might be remote, but it’s a one-of-a-kind landmark to add to your North Dakota itinerary.

Things to do near Bagg Bonanza Farm: Located close to the place where North Dakota meets both Minnesota and South Dakota, Bagg Bonanza Farm is close to both Fort Ransom State Park and the Sheyenne National Grassland, which offer beautiful natural respites from the hectic pace of everyday life. Here are some local RVshare rentals to check out!

Planning an RV Trip to North Dakota

Planning an RV trip to North Dakota to see all these landmarks and more? Great idea — we’re here to help!

We’ve got you covered when it comes to the best North Dakota RV rentals, as well as the best campgrounds and state parks ND has to offer. From Bismarck to Fargo and everywhere in between, enjoy your trip!

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