The Great Northern

Following US‑2 through wide-open spaces is guaranteed to bring new meaning to the expression “getting away from it all.”

North Dakota

The Peace Garden State

Apart from the likeable small city of Grand Forks, at the state’s eastern border, much of North Dakota’s landscape lives up to those nondescript clichés from childhood family trips: It hems and rolls and yawns forever. Montana may be Big Sky Country, but North Dakota sure seems to be High Sky Country, the land where, if you tire of watching dancing golden wheat mirages, you can exercise your finger channel-surfing on the radio. It’s a long, flat, and (dare we say it?) dull drive across the state, divided four-lane almost all the way, with little but plains or pseudo-prairie. Even the most epic side trip offers minimal relief.

The state has done what it can to help out bored travelers by eliminating roadside mowing to encourage wildflowers for most of the trip across, opting for native prairie and a potential refuge for wildlife—and roadkill. That said, the 300 miles across the state do hold a few points of interest, including Fort Union, an evocative outpost of the early frontier; popular Devils Lake recreational areas; and the geographical center of North America, marked by a stone monument in the town of Rugby.

Map of the Great Northern through North Dakota.

Map of the Great Northern through North Dakota.

Fort Union Trading post National Historic Site (15550 ND-1804)
Devils Lake
Grand Forks