Sunrise over Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

10 Most Scenic North Dakota Towns

North Dakota’s small towns may not have what most consider active tourism scenes, but this small state is home to some of the most scenic landscapes and quaint towns around. Between wide-open prairie lands, historical monuments, and more giant roadside attractions than one might expect, these small towns are filled with stunning views for travelers. Outdoor enthusiasts will find their fair share of forested hiking trails, while history buffs will find no shortage of interesting (and big!) monuments. From towns covered in hand-painted murals to scenic drives, there is something for everyone here.


The sun sets over Scoria Point Overlook in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Scoria Point Overlook in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

History and nature lovers alike will enjoy a visit to Medora, North Dakota. Nestled along the banks of the Little Missouri River, Medora is home to state parks, unique museums, and historic sights that will keep visitors busy and entertained all day long. One of the most notable places in town is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park is filled with wildlife, educational resources, and campsites for those who wish to stay overnight. Hikers will discover a pleasing array of trails suitable for any skill level, including the easy Skyline Vista or the considerably more difficult Achenbach path. After exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park, head to Sully Creek State Park for more activities, including hiking and kayaking. Those looking to dive into the history of this charming small town should add The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Billings County Courthouse Museum to their bucket lists.

Valley City

Bridge over the valley in Valley City, North Dakota
Bridge over the valley in Valley City, North Dakota.

Those who enjoy taking a casual stroll or bike ride over a beautiful bridge find what they want in Valley City, North Dakota. Known as “The City of Bridges,” Valley City is home to various exciting and historic bridges, some of which date back to World War I. During a visit here, embark on a walking tour of all eight bridges, as it’s a great way to explore the town. Another excellent way to experience the beauty of Valley City is on the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway. This 60-mile stretch offers unbeatable views of the valley and 40 historic sights. Along the drive, make a pit stop at Medicine Wheel Park, where visitors can enjoy a combination of history and natural beauty.


Post office in Jud, North Dakota
Post office in Jud, North Dakota.

On the surface, Jud, North Dakota, might not look like much, but visitors who spend a little time exploring the area quickly discover the quaint beauty this small town offers. With a population of around 70 people, Jud does put the “small” in small towns. Despite its size, the residents of Jud have made artistic efforts to make the city as beautiful as possible. Nearly every home and building in town features vibrant, hand-painted murals–so much so that the area is now known as “The Village of Murals.” Visitors will find a variety of paintings here, ranging from images of stamps to scenic landscapes and cartoon characters. While there may not be many activities, the photo opportunities in Jud are abundant. 

Devils Lake

The National Register listed Locke Building in downtown Devils Lake, North Dakota, United States.
The National Register-listed Locke Building in downtown Devils Lake, North Dakota, United States.

From tranquil lakes ideal for fishing to state park hiking trails and historic buildings, there is no shortage of fun to be had in Devils Lake, North Dakota. Avid anglers will want to book accommodations at Woodland Resort–a charming lodge situated on the shores of Creel Bay. Here, visitors can enjoy boat rentals, fishing guides, and beautiful views of the surrounding waters. Those who prefer exploration by land should head over to Grahams Island State Park–a heavily wooded park with various short trails to explore. Park visitors can also enjoy fishing, swimming, picnicking, and camping. Local historic sights include a 1910-era home called The Sheriff's House and The Lake Region Heritage Center. Devils Lake also offers scenic drives along Highway 2 and Highway 57 for those looking for a leisurely afternoon outing.


Tommy Turtle, symbol of Bottineau, North Dakota
Post office in Jud, North Dakota.

Located not far from the US-Canada border, travelers will find the delightful town of Bottineau, North Dakota. Regardless of the season, there are always scenic views and fun activities here. A trip to Bottineau isn’t complete without visiting the famous Tommy Turtle statue in Tommy Turtle Park. The adorable statue stands over 26 feet tall, making it the most giant statue of a turtle riding a snowmobile in the world. While here, visitors can enjoy additional park amenities such as picnic areas, horseshoe pits, and playgrounds. To keep the outdoor adventure going, head to Lake Metigoshe State Park, which features over 12 miles of hiking trails and a range of all-season activities. In the winter months, Bottineau Winter Park offers skinning, snowmobiling, and breathtaking views of the surrounding Turtle Mountains. 


The Garrison dam is an earth-fill embankment dam on the Missouri River in central North Dakota.
The Garrison Dam on the Missouri River in central North Dakota.

Home to the impressive Garrison Dam, Garrison is another scenic town with a larger-than-life animal statue. Fans of Bottineau’s Tommy the Turtle will want to visit Garrison’s Wally the Walleye–a 26-foot statue highlighting the fruitful local walleye fishing scene. After snapping a few photos with Wally, visitors can enjoy a few rounds of golf at the Garrison Golf Course, where they will find another giant statue–Big Gene The Golfer. Afterward, head to the nearby Fort Stevenson State Park, which features 10 miles of hiking trails, swimming, an arboretum, and stunning views of the surrounding water.

New Salem

Salem Sue, the World's Largest Holstein Cow, was built in 1974
Salem Sue, the World's Largest Holstein Cow in New Salem. Image credit JWCohen via Shutterstock.

Keeping with the giant statue theme, New Salem, North Dakota, is home to the world’s biggest Holstein cow–Salem Sue. Standing 38 feet high, Salem Sue can be seen from miles away and was built to pay tribute to the town's dairy industry. In addition to large cows, New Salem also offers pretty surroundings and historical sights to explore. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the New Salem Historical Society & Custer Trail Museum, which features old buildings such as schoolhouses, a blacksmith, and a barn. Those looking for views of the countryside should take a drive down the Old Red Old Ten Scenic Byway–remembering to stop off at Gaebe Pond for a few hours of fishing and relaxation.


The Walhalla Trading post in Walhalla, North Dakota.

For those traveling in the winter months, Walhalla, North Dakota, is worth a visit. The town sits along the shores of the Pembina River and is home to less than 1,000 people. Here, visitors can enjoy several outdoor activities, all while soaking in the stunning backdrops Walhalla has to offer. Spend an afternoon wandering over 30 miles of trails at The Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area, where visitors can admire the most extensive undisturbed forest in the state. History lovers will want to check out the Walhalla Trading Post. In the winter months, outdoor enthusiasts will want to visit Frost Fire Park, which offers skiing, snowboarding, and dining opportunities. For a leisurely activity, drivers can set off on the Rendezvous Region Scenic Backway, which offers lovely views of the Pembina River.


View of Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota USA
View of Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

Killdeer, North Dakota, is a quiet oasis offering visitors various calming nature views, scenic drives, and historic sights. Take a slow and leisurely drive along the Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway, where mountain views and stunning landscapes are plentiful. Along the drive, remember to pull over and get out at Little Missouri State Park, where travelers can admire the rugged badlands as they trek through 45 miles of park trails. History buffs will want to plan a stop at the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield State Historic Site. Here, visitors can enjoy views of the surrounding hills while they learn about the infamous 1864 Battle of Killdeer Mountain.


Aerial View of Jamestown, North Dakota along Interstate 94
Aerial view of Jamestown, North Dakota, along Interstate 94.

Home to picturesque prairie lands, hiking trails, and historic buildings, Jamestown, North Dakota, is full of hospitality and small-town charm. Like many other small towns in the state, Jamestown also features a giant roadside attraction. At 26 feet high, Dakota Thunder is the world’s most giant buffalo statue. The 60-ton concrete buffalo marks the site of the National Buffalo Museum, where visitors can visit live buffalo and learn about the history and importance of the American bison. Once you’ve had your fill of buffalo, head to the overlook trail to do some mildly challenging hiking while admiring views of the Jamestown Reservoir. For a more leisurely hike, try the North Ridge trail, which winds along the shores of Pipestem Lake. 

With everything from cowboy museums to ski resorts, North Dakota’s small-town scene is worth exploring. Whether travelers are looking to camp overnight or want to drive through these quaint towns, visitors will not be disappointed in the beauty that is the Roughrider State.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 10 Most Scenic North Dakota Towns

More in Places