There is no better experience in North Dakota than being on the land itself, out in the fresh air. It is a classic American experience. In addition to the breathtaking views, diverse landscape and history and culture around every corner, North Dakota will inspire your tour group with its bountiful gardens and amazing natural wildflowers.
On the eastern state border is Grand Forks, North Dakota’s third-largest city, which boasts many beautiful public parks. In Sertoma Park is the Japanese Garden, featuring rocks, water, hills, trees and plants. A gift from sister city Awano, Japan, it was dedicated in 2003 and commemorates Grand Forks’ recovery from the 1997 Red River Valley flood. This lovely and unique garden features three lanterns made of natural granite rocks, each having its own name and significant meaning. The Greater Grand Forks Greenery is a 20-mile-long National Recreation Path along the Red River, with amenities that include wildlife observation areas, interpretive displays and wildflower gardens. Learn more at visitgrandforks.com.
Dakota Sun Gardens in Carrington is not a typical public garden but a family
homestead, where the owners have cultivated a beautiful tour stop. Here, about 130 miles west of Grand Forks, tour groups will find more than 30 gardens, covering more than 7,500 square feet and showcasing water features, flowers and shrubbery accented with natural rock, driftwood and metal sculptures. Several hundred different annuals are planted amid the perennials, trees and shrubs, to provide a consistent burst of color. The owners converted two wooden 1950s grain bins into a unique garden cottage and built a small pond in front, where tour passengers can take in the scenery while enjoying a glass of lemonade or wine. The owners opened a winery in 2009, using mostly grapes and fruits they grow themselves. The facility also features a tasting room, spacious front deck and an event space for large groups. With advance notice, tours are available, and lunch may also be arranged. Contact Dakota Sun Gardens for group rates, meal details, wine tastings and garden fun, at dakotasungardens.com.
About 150 miles north of Carrington, on the U.S./Canadian border, is the International Peace Garden, more than 2,300 acres shared by the province of Manitoba and the state of North Dakota. Opened in 1932, it features two pristine freshwater lakes, scenic hiking and driving trails, wildflowers, waterfalls and a large variety of North American birds and animals. Tour passengers can stroll the terraces and walkways to view more than 155,000 flowers, which are featured in gardens and displays. These include a working 13-foot clock, planted with as many 2,000 flowers each year, and permanent floral flag displays representing the U.S. and Canada. Groups can tour the formal garden, sunken garden, numerous water gardens and an indoor conservatory with more than 1,000 different cacti; hear the Carillon Bell Tower chime every 15 minutes and on the hour; pay respects at the Peace Chapel and the 9/11 Memorial; and more. The Interpretive Center houses the conservatory, a restaurant and gift shop. Learn more at peacegarden.com.
On the western edge North Dakota is Theodore Roosevelt National Park, preserving a landscape that provided both guidance and solace to our 26th president. Divided into north and south units, the park’s natural beauty includes rock formations, wildflowers, shrubs and trees, along with an abundance of wildlife. The south unit’s main feature is the 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive, with several pullout spots that provide stunning views of the badlands, prairie dog towns and wildlife such as mule deer, elk and bison; interpretive signs explain the park’s natural features. The north unit’s 14-mile scenic byway follows the north rim of the Little Missouri River Valley, offering its own spectacular vistas and wildlife viewing opportunities. Both units provide access to numerous hiking trails, and brochures highlighting spots of geological, ecological and historical significance are available at the visitor center for each unit. Visit nps.gov/thro/index.htm to learn more.