North Dakota Scenic Byways and Backways


Jack Frost has been out painting the tree leaves. Each year brings the anticipation that maybe we will have a bright and long lasting fall foliage display. And based on the forecasts I have read, we may be in for a great show this year.

North Dakota may not have the reputation of producing the colors typical of Northern Minnesota or New England in the fall, but our fall color show is certainly enjoyable and interesting. A good guide for places to visit during the fall color display is the North Dakota Parks & Recreation’s Scenic Byways and Backways webpage. Although these byways and backways can be enjoyed throughout the year, visiting one or more of these areas would be a great way to enjoy the fall color show here in North Dakota.

There are ten routes in the program, and as one would expect, many of them follow a river: The Chan SanSan Scenic Backway follows the James River south of Jamestown to near LaMoure, while the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Byway is adjacent to the Des Lacs River in the Kenmare area. The Rendezvous Region Scenic Byway runs between Cavalier and Vang, and the Sakakawea Scenic Byway between Stanton and Washburn. Then there is the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway between Valley City and Lisbon, and the Standing Rock National Native American Scenic Byway which follows the Missouri River from Standing Rock to near Mobridge, SD.

The other trails that do not necessarily follow rivers are the Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway between New Town and Manning, while old highway 10 between Mandan and Dickinson is the Old Red/Old Ten Scenic Byway. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit Scenic Byway is a well-known scenic trail, and the does follow the Little Missouri River for some of the way. Finally the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway runs from St. John to the west end of the mountain near the Carbury Port.

So make a point of enjoying the fall display, and consider visiting at least one of these scenic byways and backways. There is a trail within easy driving distance for most everyone in the state. Whether you stay close to home or do some traveling, it could be a great way to enjoy a little Natural North Dakota.

View the North Dakota Parks & Recreation’s Scenic Byways and Backways webpage.

Chuck Lura

Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.




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