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North Dakota is a state in the midwest of the USA and has about 672,000 inhabitants, ranking it number 48. Only Vermont and Wyoming has less inhabitants. It became one of the US states on November 2, 1889, together with South Dakota.
North Dakota covers over 183,000 square kilometres and borders Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. The western half of the state consists of the hilly Great Plains, and the northern part of the Badlands to the west of the Missouri River. The state's high point, White Butte at 1,069 metres, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park are located in the Badlands. The region is abundant in fossil fuels including crude oil and lignite coal. The Missouri River forms Lake Sakakawea, the third largest man-made lake in the United States, behind the Garrison Dam. The central region of the state is divided into the Drift Prairie and the Missouri Plateau. The eastern part of the state consists of the flat Red River Valley, the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz. Its fertile soil, drained by the meandering Red River flowing northward into Lake Winnipeg, supports a large agriculture industry. Devils Lake, the largest natural lake in the state, is also found in the east. Eastern North Dakota is overall flat, however, there are significant hills and buttes in western North Dakota. Most of the state is covered in grassland; crops cover most of eastern North Dakota but are sparse in the center and west. Natural trees in North Dakota are found usually where there is good drainage such as the ravines and valley near the Pembina Gorge and Killdeer Mountains, the Turtle Mountains, the hills around Devil's Lake, in the dunes area of McHenry County in central North Dakota, and along the Sheyenne Valley slopes and the Sheyenne delta.
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Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a United States National Park comprising three geographically separated areas of badlands in western North Dakota. The park was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The scenery changes constantly in relationship with the seasons. Both main units of the park have scenic drives, approximately 100 miles of foot and horse trails, wildlife viewing, and opportunities for back country hiking and camping. One of the most popular attractions is wildlife viewing. The park is home to a wide variety of Great Plains wildlife including bison, feral horses, elk, bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer and mule deer, prairie dogs, and at least 186 species of birds including golden eagles, sharp-tailed grouse, and wild turkeys. Bison may be dangerous and visitors are advised to view them from a distance. Bison, elk, and bighorn sheep have been successfully reintroduced to the park.
North Dakota's climate is typical of a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. The state's location in the Upper Midwest allows it to experience some of the widest variety of weather in the United States, and each of the four seasons has its own distinct characteristics. The eastern half of the state has a humid continental climate with warm to hot, somewhat humid summers and cold, windy winters and the western half has a semi-arid climate with less precipitation and less humidity but similar temperature profiles. Due to its location in the center of North America North Dakota experiences temperature extremes characteristic of a continental climate, with cold winters and mild to hot summers. Hot weather, though usually confined to June, July, and August, can sometimes begin as early as April or May, and could spill over into September. Being 1,600 kilometres from any large body of water (with the exception of Lake Superior), temperatures and precipitation in North Dakota can vary widely. North Dakota is far enough north to experience 51 °C temperatures and blizzards during the winter months, but far enough south to experience 49 °C temperatures in the summer. The 100 °C variation between North Dakota's highest and lowest temperature is the 3rd largest variation of any U.S. State. Average temperatures are mostly around 25-30 °C in summer and -5 °C to -10 °C in winter, with nigths averaging 10-15 °C and -15 °C to -20 °C respectively. Tornadoes are possible in North Dakota from April through October, but the peak tornado month is July, followed by June and August. The state averages 13 tornadoes per year. Depending on location, average annual precipitation ranges from 356mm to 559mm.
The Empire Builder, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington, stopping en route in a number of places in North Dakota, including Fargo.
Interstate 94 runs east-west through the southern side of the state. Interstate 29 runs north-south on the eastern edge of the state.
U.S. Highway 2 runs east-west through the northern side of the state. U.S. Highways 85, 83, 281, and 81 run north-south through the state. U.S. Highway 52 runs northwest-southeast through the state.
For those arriving from Canada, 24-hour customs stations are available at SK 39 (U.S. 52) in Portal, MB 10 (U.S. 281) at the Peace Gardens, and MB 75 (I-29) near Pembina.
Check Greyhound buses for options.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
North Dakota has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.
Jefferson Bus Line (888-864-2832) has a route that goes along US I-29, which goes north and south.
Greyhound (800-231-2222) goes along the other major interstage, I-94, which goes east and west.
New Town Bus Line (701-852-2477) starts in New Town, ND, heads east on Highway 23 up to Minot, then continues on Highway 2 to Grand Forks. It always runs from Minot to Bismarck on Highway 83.
There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:
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