North Dakota's Enchanted Highway

September 29, 2019

by Steve

We are in North Dakota for the first time (for either of us), and so we're trying to see all that we can. We weren't sure what to expect, but we thought that it would be a lot like South Dakota -- pretty much flat with hardly a tree in sight. But it turns out that North Dakota presents quite a varied terrain as you cross the state on I-94. So far we've managed to see most of the highlights, we think, which include the chipper from the movie "Fargo" at the Fargo visitor center, Fort Lincoln where George Custer was stationed before heading to Little Bighorn, and three national park sites. There's a fair bit to see here. Well, not enough to make North Dakota your top tourist destination.

But the people of North Dakota are trying to change that. In the western part of the state, there's been an effort to turn a small, dying town into a destination by creating metal artwork along a 32-mile stretch of country road. It's called "The Enchanted Highway" and it runs between I-94 and the little town of Regent.


This is the first sculpture along I-94 at the start of the enchanted highway. It's called "Geese in Flight," although we think "Bird's-Eye View" would be a better title. It claims to be the largest metal sculpture in the world.  


About 3 miles south, "Deer Crossing" is the next artwork you come across. The original intent was to have a sculpture every 3 miles, but not all the farmers along the route were willing to give up a corner of a field, so it's 11 miles to the next one.


We think that there are several billion grasshoppers per acre in North Dakota farm fields, at least from what we saw in a field of sunflowers where we stopped.  Fortunately they are not all 20+ feet tall.


This work featuring a fisherman is supposed to move. We didn't see how it could, so maybe it's been changed over time.  The winds here can be pretty strong, so keeping these tall sculptures stable must be a challenge.


Pheasants and chicks. The chicks are about 15 feet tall.


 "Teddy Rides Again" was a fun work to see before we head to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


A farming family. Much bigger than the farming families that we saw in the area.

All along the route we saw advertisements for the "Enchanted Castle" at the end of the highway in Regent. Wondering what this might be, we decided to take a look. It's advertised as a restaurant/bar/hotel.


Here's the front of it. Very castle-like. This funny little brick facade just obscures your view of what the building used to be.


When you look around the corner, you see that it was formerly a 60s-era grade school.  I give them credit for finding a new use for an old building.  -And it turned out to look better inside than you might expect. It still haz school hallways and suspended ceilings and a gym, but the restaurant looked better than the average multi-purpose school room. Still, I'm not sure I want to sleep in a converted classroom.

But if you come through this way, take a couple hours out of your travel schedule to check out the enchanted highway.  I think you'll find it worth your while.

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