If you are at all interested in the whimsical, unique and humongous roadside attractions of this great country, then a drive down the amazing Enchanted Highway in North Dakota is a MUST!!
On April 2, 2013, I finally had the opportunity to drive one of the “Bucket List” trips for me in all of my travels across the country. The 32 mile drive features a number of pieces of the amazing artwork of retired Regent, ND school teacher Gary Greff who has taken on this effort in order to keep the small dying town from becoming a ghost town. I hope to have a pretty comprehensive overview of the entire route, including the map below and detailed directions, mileage, photos and even some details about each stop along the way.
The Enchanted Highway – from I-94 near Dickinson to Regent, ND
GEESE IN FLIGHT – STOP #1
To get started you must get to Exit 72 on I-94 east of Dickinson, ND. You most certainly cannot miss the first stop, which is called “Geese in Flight” and has been listed as the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world by the Guinness World Book of Records.
“Geese in Flight”, in my opinion, not only has the geese, but the giant backdrop appears to look like a giant eye looking out towards the Enchanted Highway. For my trip south on the Enchanted Highway, this is Mile Point 0 (zero).
This piece was erected in 2001 and weighs over 78 tons. The main structure is 154 feet wide and 110 feet tall. The largest goose has a wingspan of 30 feet. On a clear day this structure can be seen from nearly 5 miles away (it was a clear day for us – thank goodness!!). Gary Greff used oil tanks and oil well pipe for the materials to construct this humongous piece of art.
DEER CROSSING – STOP #2
The drive from Stop 1 “Geese in Flight” to Stop 2 “Deer Crossing” is about 3.4 miles. As shown above, you can see Deer Crossing and the Enchanted Highway from the top of the “Geese in Flight” hill.
“Deer Crossing” is one of the newer works by Mr. Greff. It was erected in 2002 just a bit south of the small town of Gladstone. The jumping buck is 75 feet tall and 60 feet long. The doe is 50 feet long and 50 feet tall. Mr. Greff used oil well tanks for the material to construct this.
GRASSHOPPERS IN THE FIELD – STOP #3
The next stop on the trek south to Regent is “Grasshoppers in the Field”. It is about 12 miles down the road from “Deer Crossing”. You must pass the small — nearly ghost town — of Lefor, ND before the giant grasshoppers appear on the right side of the road.
Unlike the first two on the drive, “Grasshoppers in the Field” was a complex set of sculptures. There is one large grasshopper and a couple of smaller ones. As well, Mr. Greff had added large strands of wheat to the sculpture (made of metal of course!!). The design of the grasshoppers was similar to the Balsa Wood animals and insects that can be purchased at hobby shops.
All of the grasshoppers have stringed lighting so I am assuming they can be lit up at night as well. This work was completed in 1999. The Giant Grasshopper 60 feet long and 40 feet tall. The Medium Grasshopper is 24 feet long and 12 feet tall. Some of the wheat pieces are well over 40 feet tall. Fuel tanks and oil well tanks were the predominant materials used for these pieces.
FISHERMAN’S DREAM – STOP #4
The next stop on the Enchanted Highway is the newest of Mr. Greff’s creations. Called “Fisherman’s Dream”, this complex and beautiful work is 14.8 miles south of the “Grasshoppers in the Field”. Greff completed this work in 2007. It includes 6 large fish of different sizes including a 60 or 70 foot leaping trout going after a giant dragonfly.
I must say that I was most impressed with this stop more than any of the others. All of them are impressive, but the use of colors, the variety, the complexity of the fish scales and even the use of the small fisherman in the boat was just fabulous.
PHEASANTS ON THE PRAIRIE – STOP #5
Continuing south for about 4.5 miles from “Fisherman’s Dream” is the next stop, called “Pheasants on the Prairie”. This is also a quite impressive work of art with a giant rooster and hen and their three chicks.
This work was erected between 1996 and 1997. The pheasant rooster weighs over 13,000 pounds and is 70 feet long and over 40 feet tall. The hen weighs 12,000 pounds and is 60 feet long and 35 feet tall. Each of the chicks are about 5000 pounds and are about 20 feet long and 15 feet tall. Greff used pipe and wire mesh to construct these. Ironically, the mesh construction was conducive for numerous birds to build nests in!!
TEDDY RIDES AGAIN – STOP #6
The next stop is quite different from most of the others. It is about 2.2 miles south of the “Pheasants on the Prairie” and honors the inventor of the National Park System in the United States. This is more like a giant wire sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt. Erected in 1993 out of well pipes, it is 51 feet tall and weighs over 9000 pounds. This little park also includes a small wooden stage coach being pulled by horses.
THE TIN FAMILY – STOP #7
The last big stop on the road to Regent is the Tin Family. It is about 3.4 miles south of “Teddy Rides Again” and can be seen for a distance before you get there. This one has a Dad, a Mom and a son. The Dad is 45 feet tall, the Mom is 44 feet tall and the boy is 23 feet tall. Mr. Greff used farm tanks, telephone poles, barbed wire and augers to make these, the first of his sculptures.
As can be seen in the photo above, each of the sites has an informative kiosk that notes the name of the work, notes the names of donors and other information.
REGENT, NORTH DAKOTA – STOP #8
Continuing south from the Tin Family about 1.9 miles you pull into the small town of Regent. Though we arrived around lunch time on a Tuesday (April 2), the town was pretty much dead. There was a gas station (and believe me…you better fill up here!!) and a small grocery store. We inquired about cafes and there were two and both were closed. Even the Enchanted Highway Visitor Center was closed. Off season I guess.
After filling up with gas, we meandered our way to the end of Main Street to see the Enchanted Castle Hotel, which was apparently built from an old school. We didn’t have time to stop there as we continued to head south.
The Enchanted Highway makes for a great diversionary trip, especially if you plan to head south to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. Definitely one of the Dream Places!! (1399)