Give North Dakota a chance

Will M. Nelson

Summer is here! When I asked my friends about their summer travel plans, one commented, “Why would I stay here? I am off to Florida.” With candor, he denied any possibility of traveling around North Dakota. Our state is often overlooked as a tourist destination, especially by our younger residents. Many overlook the vast variety in North Dakota’s natural and manmade features.

If you travel west of Bismarck, you will find the rugged Badlands, home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The region is great for hiking, fossil hunting and taking scenic drives to observe wildlife, such as bison, elk and prairie dogs. You could also stop in Medora, where you can take in the Medora Musical, eat pitchfork fondue and play a game of golf. The Badlands offer a unique environment and variety of experiences that are easily accessible via I-94.

Florida may have appealing shorelines, but we also have miles of lakeshore and stunning views. Lake Sakakawea is the third-largest manmade reservoir in the United States. Sailboaters, windsurfers, anglers and recreational boaters can enjoy the roughly 368,000 acres of lake. You could choose to hike the scenic trails, specifically the North Country National Scenic Trail, which stretches 4,600 miles from Vermont to North Dakota. Campgrounds surround the lake, making for an ideal weekend escape from the farm or the city.

Nature’s appeal may not be for everyone. Fortunately, North Dakota is also home to a cultural hub like downtown Fargo. If you have an epicurean taste, your needs will be satisfied by the diverse selection of restaurants, coffee shops and dessert venues. There is also a plethora of unique shops that stock everything from Scandinavian gifts to stylish clothing. My personal favorite is Zandbroz Variety, which is home to a great selection of books, gifts and local antiques.

Our expansive state offers a variety of experiences and views. Rather than paying hundreds of dollars for a plane ticket, think about the possibilities for adventure accessible by a short car ride. We have it all, whether it’s a national park, aquatic appeal or a lively downtown.

Will M. Nelson, 18, is a senior at Jamestown High School. He enjoys reading, debating and hiking. Will is the son of Stephanie and William Nelson, members of Northern Plains Electric Cooperative.