North Dakota Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide
North Dakota fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing North Dakota fall foliage. — Andres Jauregui
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located within the "grim fairyland" of the North Dakota badlands, provides visitors plenty of opportuniies to view wildlife (like bison and golden eagles) and geologic formations, in addition to fall colors. Although the park is primarily grassland, the wooded areas turn to shades of brilliant yellow during the seasonal peak in mid-October. Tree types include green ash, American elm, box elder, and cottonwoods. The most dramatic spot for foliage viewing is the renowned river view Oxbow Overlook, located at the end of the park's North Unit Scenic Byway.
315 Second Ave., Medora, ND 58645 | Get Directions
Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway
The Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway runs 53 miles along state Highway 43, near the Canadian border in north central North Dakota. If that sounds out of the way, rest assured that it is. But for travelers who venture this far off the beaten path, remoteness itself is an attraction. From quaint towns like St. John, with its historic Folk-Victorian Martineau House, to the pristine shores of Lake Metigoshe, this byway offers a rare glimpse of an America unspoiled by modernity. Fall colors in the area abound, with bright- and golden-yellow birch foliage in early and mid-October.
Martineau House Information Center, Foussard Avenue, St. John, ND | Get Directions
Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway
The Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway cuts northward through the Badlands and Little Missouri Breaks Country before reaching Lake Sakakawea. To check out the area's fabulous fall colors -- including Prairie Dream paper birch -- stop at the far northern end of the byway at the Crow Flies High Butte Overlook on the eastern shore of the lake. For those who want a cultural experience as well, the Four Bears Museum offers insights on the indigenous Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Native American tribes in the area. The Killdeer Battlefield Historic Site commemorates the historic conflict between native peoples and the U.S. Army that served as a flashpoint for the Sioux Wars of the 1870s.
Crow Flies High Butte Overlook, New Town, ND 58763 | Get Directions
Family vacation video of a September trip to Theodore Roosevelt National park, including great colors and wild horses and prairie dogs.
Did we miss a North Dakota fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.