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As the air begins to cool and acres of colorful leaves start to blanket the valleys of the badlands, rivers and lakes, autumn is a magical time to visit North Dakota. In addition to the picturesque palette of colors created by the state’s unique fall foliage, North Dakota Tourism invites visitors to explore its scenic landscapes and partake in breathtaking outdoor adventures and enchanting fall festivals.
Find Fall Color Statewide
North Dakota’s wildlife refuges and wooded areas turn into a sea of red, yellow and orange making the state a perfect, under the radar destination to leaf peep. North Dakota Tourism publishes a Fall Foliage Guide with incredible locations to see the leaves change beginning in mid-September through mid-October.
While North Dakota is home to some astonishing forests, the intensity of the fall colors tends to shine through in the northern part of the state. Set on the North Dakota/Canadian border, the Pembina Gorge encompasses one of the largest uninterrupted woodlands in the state. With over 2,800 acres and more than 30 miles of trails, the Pembina Gorge is an ideal place to admire the changing of the leaves.
About 130 miles east of the Pembina Gorge, Lake Metigoshe State Park boasts some of the state’s most vibrant autumn hues. Nestled in the Turtle Mountains this area is filled with rolling hills and aspen trees for almost 1,500 acres.
Discover Legendary Vistas
With thousands of miles of trails to explore the breathtaking scenery, fall is a prime time to grab some hiking boots or a bike and get outside and explore. North Dakota Tourism has a compiled list of 13 Fantastic Trails that range in levels of difficulty.
Hikers can stroll the paved Cannonball Trail in Mott or choose something a little more challenging like the Pipestem Creek Trail in Jamestown. Bikers can also slowly pedal along several recreational routes or turn it up a notch and climb some of the steep grades in the Badlands on the Maah Daah Hey Trail. With 144 miles of rugged single-track trail that follows alongside all three units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, this nationally recognized trail is worthy of its own stop for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is also home to the annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival that takes place every September. Astronomy experts to stargazing amateurs flock to this three-day festival featuring education, storytelling from NASA missions and viewing of the spectacular night skies. This year’s event, taking place September 16 -18, 2022, has a full schedule of activities that can be found online.
Celebrate with Special Events
Several cities in North Dakota embrace the changing season and host lively fall festivals and events to celebrate.
Norsk Høstfest, the largest four-day celebration of Scandinavian culture in the United States, takes place at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds in Minot. With world-class entertainment, Scandinavian cuisine, handcrafted Norsk merchandise, Miss Norsk Høstfest competition, live music, and of course Vikings, this event has activities for visitors of all ages. A full schedule for the 2022 event, beginning September 28 and ending October 1, can be found online.
If you can’t make it to Norsk Høstfest, North Dakota has several other events to celebrate all season. This year Papa’s Pumpkin Patch in Bismarck welcomes guests for its fall season through October 22. With more than 25,000 pumpkins, gourds, decorative corn and related harvest items produced every year, this pumpkin patch is a must. In addition to fall produce and Halloween décor, Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch near Grand Forks has opportunities for visitors to enjoy a hayride through the woods, walk through the Haunted Hollow Road and for the brave adventurers, enter the Gruesome Granary Haunted House open through October 29, 2022.
Coleman Corn Maze in Bismarck is a special 10-acre maze and open Friday – Sunday through October 23, 2022. This maze can be navigated using a map with identified checkpoints or by using your GPS enabled phone. Many prefer to just meander their way through, enjoying the detours and adventures.
Sports fans rejoicing with the return of the pigskin should check out the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Bison in Fargo. NDSU boasts an extensive tailgating scene at the Fargodome during home games. For more information about tailgating and the Bison’s upcoming 2022 schedule, please check online.
For more fall fun and special events in North Dakota including Wild Rides Rodeo Dickson, apple picking, exploring wineries, shopping at a farmers’ market, touring towns like Fargo and Medora, and tips for wildlife viewing across the state, visit the Fall in North Dakota page.
September 14, 2022