Visiting the United States? There are 50 states in all.

North Dakota — a Midwestern state dominated by the Great Plains — is known for its scenic Badlands (barren, rocky formations), its farms and ranches, and its history of Plains Indian life and 19th-century pioneer settlements.

Enjoy hiking along dramatic rock formations and fishing and boating on the state’s rivers and lakes.

As the homeland to several Plains Indian tribes — including the Dakota/Lakota (Sioux), Mandan and Hidatsa peoples — North Dakota hosts year-round powwows that welcome spectators as well as tribal participants. Enjoy rodeos from April to October.

The state has several museums dedicated to American Indian cultures. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site explores Northern Plains Indian ceremonies, food preparation and games. And the Plains Art Museum, in Fargo, showcases American Indian art.

U.S. map with North Dakota highlighted (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

Wild and free

Theodore Roosevelt National Park — named for the 26th president, a noted conservationist — occupies a vast stretch of the Badlands, whose stark beauty captivated Roosevelt when he first visited in 1883. Hike or ride a horse on the park’s trails, where you’ll see free-roaming buffalo herds, deer, elk, wild horses, pronghorn sheep and prairie dogs.

Buffalo on prairie (Thinkstock)
At Theodore Roosevelt National Park, visitors can see buffalo herds on the open range. (Thinkstock)

American Indian country

Each September, Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, hosts the United Tribes International Powwow, a celebration of American Indian dancing and drumming competitions as well as traditional crafts. Featuring 1,500 performers representing 70 tribes, the event attracts 20,000 spectators.

American Indian dancers (Shutterstock)
American Indian dancers, wearing eagle feathers and colorful regalia, keep Plains culture alive. (Shutterstock)

Past and present

The North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, in Bismarck, traces North Dakota’s history from 600 million years ago through the present day. Dinosaur tracks lead to life-sized skeleton casts of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops poised for battle. Other exhibits feature artifacts from early human settlements.

Two dinosaur skeletons on display (State Historical Society of North Dakota)
A museum in Bismark exhibits skeleton casts of dinosaurs. (State Historical Society of North Dakota)

Western icon 

As a living symbol of the American West, the buffalo conjures up nostalgic images of the American frontier. Head for Jamestown, home of the National Buffalo Museum, where you’ll see a buffalo herd on surrounding pastures and even a rare albino buffalo.

Frontier Village, on the same site, recreates a prairie town of the 1800s and offers stagecoach rides. Plus, there’s the World’s Largest Buffalo Monument, towering over its real-life counterparts.

Huge statue of buffalo outdoors (© Richard Cummins/Alamy Stock Photo)
The World’s Largest Buffalo Monument is a popular roadside attraction in Jamestown, North Dakota. (© Richard Cummins/Alamy Stock Photo)

Nordic connections

In the 1800s, immigrants from Scandinavian countries settled in North Dakota, and their influence lingers. Tour the Scandinavian Heritage Park, in Minot, to see a replica of Norway’s 13th-century Gol Stave Church, plus a Danish-style windmill and an 18th-century house transplanted from Sigdal, Norway.

Full-size replica of medieval church (© America/Alamy Stock Photo)
A replica of Norway’s Gol Stave Church honors Nordic influence in North Dakota. (© America/Alamy Stock Photo)

Learn more about North Dakota and the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.