The US National Park System has 417 official units throughout the country including 59 National Parks, 87 National Monuments, 19 National Preserves, 51 National Historic Parks, 78 National Historic Sites, 4 National Battlefield Parks, 9 National Military Parks, 9 National Battlefields, 30 National Memorials and a number of other National sites including National Rivers, National Seashores, National Lakeshores, National Parkways and National Trails.
Officially, the National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
The NPS is a great blessing to the citizens of this country and all others that may visit. They have some amazing offerings and a road trip that passes by these is not a worthy roadtrip. These sites are the gems of our country!
Though I have visited all 50 states in the US, I have not been able to get to many of the sites. Of the 59 National Parks, for instance, I have only visited 28 of them and some of those were way before my travel blogging and photography days. Of all of the others, I have been to 77 of the nearly 350 sites. So, I still have a long way to go.
That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to many of the National Parks, Monuments and other NPS sites. My personal favorites are Glacier National Park (Montana), Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) and Yellowstone National Park (WY) — OK…I love the mountains!!
Following are some photos of some of the other NPS Sites that I have visited over the years. More are sure to come soon!! (In fact, just this past weekend — Easter weekend 2017 — I drove the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and got photos of the Easter Sunrise!!)
In the last few days there has been a viral survey on Facebook (seems like there is one every week!!). Simply put, “How Many States Have You Visited” is fun for all because it is simple and adds color and is really a “go viral” piece. MapLoco.com has apparently used it to draw attention to their site. I did it and my results are above – yes, I only have three states to go. Many of my friends have done it as well and one common theme I found among many of them….they had not yet been to North Dakota. In fact, a couple of my friends even indicated that they may never find a reason to go to North Dakota.
North Dakota gets a bad rap from people because in the winter there are unbearable blizzards and snow. The state is relatively flat and “may not” have interesting places to visit (or so people think). But, despite the cold winter, there is plenty to see and do in North Dakota for fun, especially if you go in late Spring or during the Summer. Here are my TOP TEN places to visit in North Dakota.
1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Medora, ND
Yes indeed, there IS a National Park in North Dakota. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, named after the President that pushed forth conservation by establishing the National Forest Service, and establishing 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks, and enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act which he used to proclaim 18 National Monuments. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land.
2. The Enchanted Highway – Dickinson, ND to Regent, ND
The Enchanted Highway is a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures constructed at intervals along a 32 mile stretch of two-lane highway from east of Dickinson, ND to Regent, ND. In my opinion, this is one of America’s TOP Roadside Attractions. (See my complete blog post about it here).
3. Interstate 94 – The Highway of Giants
Interstate 94 from Fargo to Dickinson boasts FOUR of the World’s Largest things (see my post about this part of North Dakota)…the World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, ND; the World’s Largest Sand Crane in Steele, ND; Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow in New Salem, ND (see #6 below); and “Geese in Flight”, the first piece of the Enchanted Highway and the Guinness World Record Holder for the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world.
4. Rugby, ND – The Geographical Center of North America
I got to visit Rugby in 2014. The novelty of visiting the Geographical Center of North America was too much to resist (see my post here).
5. Space Aliens Bar and Grill in Fargo, ND
I have visited three of these locations over the years. For an out of this world tasty experience (they have BBQ Ribs!!) you must stop by Space Aliens. They actually have TWO locations in North Dakota (Bismarck as well). As you can see below, back in 2005 we finished off a massive all-you-can-eat dinner. And the quirky theme restaurant has all of the outer-space kitsch you want too!
6. Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, New Salem, ND
For an udderly moooving experience, Salem Sue is a must see attraction. At 38 feet tall, 50 feet long and weighing over 12,000 pounds, this cow is amazing fun. On a hill near New Salem, ND (I-94, exit 127), this bodacious bovine can be seen from as far as seven miles away on a clear day.
7. A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere – Nekoma, ND
Contrary to what many may believe about North Dakota, I was quite surprised by what I saw on ND Highway 1. All along the way there were many small ponds surrounded by grasses and filled with ducks and many other birds and wildlife.
Personally, I am not sure why North Dakota deserves the negative attention. It is really a great place to visit (most times of the year). Make sure to plan on adding North Dakota to your map of states visited!! You will certainly have a Smile! (Smiley Water Tower in Grand Forks, ND)