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Top Five Destinations of Bismarck, North Dakota


I used to have no clue about north, south, east or west. Growing up in my hometown, I didn’t need to know. I started running around those streets playing capture the flag through many a neighborhood. As my parents drove me to practices and friend’s houses, I looked out the windows and absorbed my surroundings. Soon, I replaced my dirt bike with a ten-speed and roamed further afield. By the time I had my car, I knew the locations of most everything and could figure out the rest.

Then I went away and every time I returned, my hometown became a bit more alien. Maybe the street widened. Maybe a familiar landmark became a Ruby Tuesday. I could still get to where I needed to go, but doubt had crept into my subconscious and it no longer felt like home.

Now, even further away in space and time, I call my friend that lives back home and realize that I didn’t really know it that well at all. I knew my little realm within the larger area, but there was so much I missed.

I’ve passed through 46 states within our expansive country and I’ve seen quite a bit, but as I think about those four states I’ve yet to visit, I think about all the roads I’ve yet to drive in my past backyards. North Dakota stands first on the remaining four states and I’ve figured Bismarck would be the logical place to start my exploration. I can’t get to know it, but I can certainly enjoy these samples.

Tour Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Good ol' Bismarck!

Only 134 miles from Bismarck, I figure this is the perfect time to fit in a visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Hiking a few nature trails, driving the scenic loop and exploring all the information on Theodore Roosevelt should fill a couple of days. As long as I don’t go in the winter, camping a couple of nights to be sure I can do it all shouldn’t be a problem.

Enter the Apple Pie Eating Contest at AppleFest

I have a fascination with eating contests and a love of pie, so the Apple Pie Eating Contest at Bismarck’s AppleFest seems to be a no-brainer. Now, I just have to be sure my North Dakota trip coincides with the weekend of September 22 and 23.

Take in a Bismarck Bobcats Hockey Game

Only two schools have as many NCAA Division I hockey championships as the University of North Dakota, so you know this state cares about its hockey. However, since Grand Forks is a 270-mile drive away from Bismarck, the Bismarck Bobcats seem to be a good substitute. Fortunately they are playing at home over AppleFest weekend.

Eat at the Pirogue Grille

After giving my stomach a break from all of that pie, I figure a trip to the Pirogue Grille will be just the thing to make me look at food again. Moderate portions of roast corn and bison soup, venison sausage and fresh peach ice cream for dessert should make my stomach happy again.

Hike at Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Much closer than Teddy Roosevelt’s park, the Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge is only a 44-mile drive away from Bismarck. Hopefully the week around AppleFest will coincided with the migration of whooping cranes. Hearing that call as I hike might be one of my favorite sounds.

Any suggestions for things that I missed? Any additional recommendations for the area? Just let me know in the comments.

About Jason McClain

Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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