motorcycle destinations

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in North Dakota, United States

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in North Dakota, United States

1. Introduction

Also known as “The Roughrider State,” North Dakota certainly has the topography suited for motorcyclists eager to traverse through untamed wilderness and over rough highways. North Dakota is divided into the Red River Valley, the Drift Prairie, and the Missouri Plateau. Each region has miles of pavement that rise, fall, or cut through hills, valleys, lakes, and wetlands.

While North Dakota has plenty of natural beauty for you to appreciate, there are other places that stick out more than others. There are roads with plenty of twists and turns that give riders an adrenaline rush. There are locations that provide both opportunities for adventure and chances to admire the sights.

This article will serve as a guide of the best motorcycle roads and destinations in North Dakota while providing supplementary information on this state’s motorcycle laws and luggage.

2. Roads and Destinations in North Dakota

2.1 Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway

Distance: 34 miles
Time: 55 minutes
Start: Valley City
End: Fort Ransom

As you follow alongside the Sheyenne River, you will also catch sight of Lake Ashtabula which is in close proximity to Valley City. Continuing on your way, you will also get to admire other attractions such as the Baldhill Dam, the Medicine Wheel Park, and the Clausen Springs.

For the duration of your ride, your surroundings will have plenty of rolling hills, farms, ranches, and open hills. The road itself has plenty of gentle turns and a relatively smooth surface which helps make for a leisurely trip.

When you get to Fort Ransom, you can go to the Fort Ransom State Park and the Fort Ransom State Historic Site to get to know the history and geology of the region.

2.2 Theodore Roosevelt Park Loop

Distance: 47 miles
Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
Start: Medora
End: Medora

You start off in Medora which hosts outdoor performances at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre.

As you go into Theodore Roosevelt Park, there are plenty of natural sites where you can admire the reservation dedicated to the 26th U.S. President. These include the River Bend Overlook and Oxbow Overlook. There are also plenty of hiking trails such as the Caprock Coulee Nature Trail and the Achenbach Trail.

If you are lucky, you may catch sight of the local wildlife including bison, prairie dogs, or deer.

2.3 Enchanted Highway

Distance: 32 miles
Time: 40 minutes
Start: Enchanted Highway
End: Regent

You will know you are riding on the Enchanted Highway if you catch sight of the scrap metal sculpture referred to as the Geese in Flight. As you continue southward, there will be plenty of statues along the road to guide you. These include the World’s Largest Tin Family, Grasshoppers in the Field, Deer Crossing, etc.

Upon reaching Regent, you will find hotels where you can rest from your journey as well as a gift shop where you can acquire miniature versions of the statutes you passed along the way.

2.4 North Dakota Highway 1804

Distance: 71 miles
Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
Start: New Town
End: Williston

Following along the Missouri River, you will be able to pass by natural sites in North Dakota including the Van Hook, the Hofflund, and the Tobacco Garden Wildlife Management Areas.

Your surroundings will be characterized by plenty of rolling hills and large valleys with plenty of waterfronts to admire along the way.

2.5 Killdeer Mountain Four Bears Scenic Byway

Distance: 71 miles
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Start: New Town
End: Manning

The highlight of this scenic byway is when you arrive at the area around Killdeer which takes you through the Killdeer Mountains and the Badlands. When you transition onto North Dakota Highway 22, you will cross over the Lost Bridge which will help you bypass the Little Missouri River.

Surrounded by high plateaus and high buttes, you will enter into the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation which resides within the Badlands. You will get to know the culture and history of various Native American tribes including the Mandan, the Hidatsa, and the Arikara.

2.6 North Dakota Highway 16

Distance: 66 miles
Time: 1 hour 6 minutes
Start: Beach
End: Horse Creek Public School District 32

While this route lacks notable attractions, this highway tends to be relatively empty as you travel through the rough desert terrain. That means you and your motorcycle can have the highway all to yourselves if luck is on your side.

If you look on either side of the road, you will notice rolling hills with empty trees and sweeping badlands. Because this highway is near the edge of the state border, you may catch sight of Montana in the distance.

2.7 Old Highway 10

Distance: 134 miles
Time: 2 hours 17 minutes
Start: New Salem
End: Beach

While you are in New Salem, drop by and take pictures of the giant fiberglass Holstein cow sculpture referred to as Salem Sue.

Upon arriving in Hebron, you can get to know the history of the town by visiting Fort Sauerkraut and the Dacotah Clayworks.

When you get in between Hebron and Richardton, you can get to enjoy the natural scenery within the Schell Recreation Area.

2.8 Chan Sansan Scenic Byway

Distance: 28 miles
Time: 44 minutes
Start: Adrian
End: Lamoure

The highlight of this scenic byway is the James River Valley which is blessed with tall grass prairies and wildflowers along the edges of the titular river. This region is also rich in Native American history due to there being plenty of earthen mounds and remnants of early civilization.

Along the route, you will cross over the Double Bone Truss Bridge and travel close to the Heinrich-Martin Dam. If you wish to look at exhibits and get to know the history of the region, you can visit the Toy Farmer, the Grand Rapids, and the Memorial Park Museums.

2.9 Des Lacs Wildlife Refuge Scenic Byway

Distance: 73 miles
Time: 1 hours 44 minutes
Start: Kenmare
End: Road 1, Minot AFB

While the ride along the Upper, Middle, and Lower Des Lacs Lakes takes you besides beautiful bodies of water, the major attractions are within the vicinity of Kenmare. You can visit the Historic Danish Mill which was once used to grind grains. There is also a hiking trail you can climb up called the Canada Goose Nature Trail. This trail is best traveled during the fall since it connects the Middle and Lower Des Lacs Lakes.

When you get to the Lower Des Lacs Lake, you can get a closer look of the scenery by traveling on the Munch’s Coulee National Recreation Trail. You will get to observe the ducks and turtles that frequent the lake. You will be able to get a better view of the Des Lacs River Valley if you ride to the upland prairie that is covered in wildflowers.

2.10 Sakakawea Scenic Byway

Distance: 23 miles
Time: 24 minutes
Start: Washburn
End: Stanton

Cutting through the Missouri River Valley, you will be able to ride up to spots that Lewis and Clark visited during their expedition into the unknown. There are also remnants of the culture, history, and civilization of the Native American tribes who lived beside the Missouri and Knife Rivers.

As this route has both historical and natural sites, the best spots to visit while traveling between Washburn and Stanton are the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, the Cross Ranch State Park, the Fort Clark State Historic Site, and the Fort Mandan Historic Site.

2.11 Rendezvous Region Scenic Backway

Distance: 48 miles
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Start: Cavalier
End: Vang

A blend of both natural and historical sites, this scenic backway still has relics and structures still standing as proof of the era of trade between fur trappers and Native Americans during the early days of exploration and settlement.

This route runs alongside the Pembina River which is the state’s only white-water river and is a popular river to engage in canoeing. You will eventually enter the Pembina Gorge which has many hiking trails.

Because of the large population of moose and elk you can see walking alongside the side of the road, this area is referred to as the “Moose Capital of North Dakota.”

2.12 Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway

Distance: 112 miles
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Start: Rolla
End: Rolla

As you loop around towards the Turtle Mountain, you will pass by many pristine lakes, ash and aspen forests, and recreational areas. The International Peace Garden is close to the Canada-United States border and is full of wildflowers and cacti.

Continuing on your way, you will come across Lake Upsilon and Lake Metigoshe State Park. Most of the landscape on this leg of your journey should have farmsteads, pastures, and foothills. There are plenty of buffalo herds that frequent this area so be ready to stop if you see any attempting to cross the road.

3. Motorcycle Laws in North Dakota

3.1 Helmet Laws

Motorcyclists over the age of 18 are not required by law to wear a motorcycle helmet when traveling through North Dakota. But while it is only mandatory for minors to keep a motorcycle helmet on at all times, it is best if all riders wear headgear. Studies have shown that a motorcycle helmet significantly lowers the chances of riders suffering from severe or fatal injuries to the head or neck.

An approved motorcycle helmet has to be commissioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation and had been constructed by the Snell Memorial Foundation.

The best models that not only meet the criteria stated above but also provide both protection and visibility are open-face and full-face helmets. When picking out a motorcycle helmet, make sure they have the following:

  • Has a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker.
  • Can be fitted around your head snugly
  • No visible signs of damage
  • Has a face shield with no scratches (Full-face helmet only)
  • Requires separate eye protection with no scratches (Three-quarter helmet only)
  • Has a hard and durable outer shell that is shatter-resistant
  • Gives you a clear, peripheral view
  • Can be fastened with a neck- or chin-strap
  • Allows airflow without fogging up
  • Can allow you to wear sunglasses or goggles underneath

3.2 Required Safety Features

Depending on the age of your motorcycle and how frequently you operate it, it is recommended you conduct periodic inspections of the machinery. Buildup of debris or the passage of time could cause primary components to start breaking down. Unlike cars and trucks, the loss of a single working part could compromise the overall functionality of a motorcycle.

For your motorcycle to be considered street legal, it must have the following features kept in good working condition and given proper maintenance:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Front and rear brakes
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Brake light
  • Reflector
  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Turn signals

3.3 Lane Splitting Laws

Lane splitting is declared illegal in North Dakota. Motorcyclists are banned from riding on top of the dividing lines between lanes, in between adjacent rows of stopped or slowed vehicles, and overtaking any larger vehicles ahead of you in the same lane.

That being the case, motorcyclists are entitled to full use of the space within the lane they are currently traveling in. They can only share a lane with another motorcyclist by staying apart a distance of at least two abreast. Both parties must agree and be aware of the other’s presence before attempting lane sharing.

3.4 Passenger Laws

There is no minimum age requirement for motorcycle passengers in North Dakota. If you carry a passenger under the age of 18, he/she must always wear an approved motorcycle helmet according to state standards. If you plan to take on any young children or eldery folk, it is only safe for them to ride with you if they can reach the footholds and handholds.

Speaking of which, your motorcycle must be equipped with a designated passenger seat, footholds, and handholds. It is illegal to carry a motorcycle passenger if your ride does not have all the features required to keep him/her securely seated while the vehicle is in motion.

For the passenger seat, you can either position it within an additional space on the driver’s seat, a separate saddle positioned near the rear, or as a sidecar.

4. Motorcycle Luggage for North Dakota Motorcycle Tour

Part of the North Dakota motorcycle trip experience is packing all of the items you may need or just want to bring along. Such examples include your repair tools, phone and charger, water container, provisions, camping supplies, etc. However, the sleek design of your motorcycle would make it difficult to keep your belongings together without sliding off.

Also, because the seasons in North Dakota tend to range from freezing winters to warm summers, the conditions of the road can drastically differ depending on what time of the year you decide to take out your motorcycle. Debris, snow, rain, and other hazards could cause damage to your belongings. Which is why you need motorcycle luggage made of durable materials to keep its contents safe while safely attached to the surface of your vehicle.

Listed below are examples of possible motorcycle luggage to help store and carry any essentials with you during your motorcycle tour of North Dakota. Each will differ based on their design, size, functionality, and placement on your motorcycle:

5. Parting Words

Before you start planning your motorcycle trip through North Dakota, you should stop to really think about where you would like to go with your motorcycle. Would you prefer following a straight path that travels between two points? Or do you wish to stay within a familiar environment by going around in a loop? Are you actively seeking scenic byways that provide you the best views of North Dakota’s natural setting? Or are you in it for navigating the sudden switchbacks and hairpin turns that require your complete focus?

Despite a motorcycle being a marvel of machinery, it does not take much to cut the time you have with your favorite ride short. A faulty component or a collision with another vehicle could be the death of your vehicle. The memories and time you spend with your motorcycle should not only be pleasant experiences, but periods of your life that you should make the best of.

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