Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 12:00 pm

From the southern edge of North Dakota up to the Canadian border, there are monumental sights to see along North Dakota’s Highway 281. Here are some destination ideas on how to plan your multi-day adventure through lakes country. 

Highway 281 

Day 1 | Ellendale + Jamestown 

Begin the day with breakfast at the Fireside Steakhouse and Lodge in Ellendale. Tour the Coleman Museum or historic Opera House, one of Ellendale’s oldest attractions before you take to the road for Jamestown. Towering over the prairie stands Dakota Thunder, the world’s largest buffalo monument. See if you can spot the buffalo herd roaming the area behind the giant monument and tour the National Buffalo Museum to learn more about their role in American history. Find a hands-on learning experience throughout the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse or get some fresh air and follow the trails along Pipestem Lake or the Jamestown Reservoir. End the evening at the Buffalo Grill and see what’s happening at The Hansen Arts Park across the street.  

Day 2 | Jamestown + Pingree + Carrington 

Enjoy a hot coffee and chill atmosphere at Babb’s Coffee House in Jamestown before you head to a birder’s paradise in Pingree. The Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge plays host to 13 species of ducks and geese, and several species of shorebirds. See how many you can spot among the trees and shoreline as you hike or bike the Wildlife Refuge’s leg of the national recreation trail. This 9-mile historic trail connects the former military posts of Fort Seward near Jamestown and Fort Totten near Devils Lake. Next, stop in Carrington and order a meal at the Chieftain Sports Bar & Grill and close out the evening with a round on the greens at CrossRoads golf course.

Day 3 | New Rockford + Devils Lake 

Let yourself sleep in before ordering up breakfast and perusing the gift store at The Garden Gate. Don’t pass through New Rockford without exploring their historic downtown opera house which hosts a theater, coffee shop, wine bar and dance studio. Pop into the Baker’s Dozen for some fresh baked bread and a steaming bowl of soup to fill you up. Browse the Eddy County Museum’s collection of artifacts throughout their schoolhouse, church and train depot buildings and then hit the road again for Devils Lake. Visit Fort Totten State Historic Site to learn about its time as a military post and community and day school. Take advantage of Devils Lake’s four seasons of fishing, cast a reel from the shoreline or rent a boat to see how you fair among the local fishermen. Enjoy a meal indoors or around the fire pit at Proz Lakeside at the Cove then go for an evening stroll and enjoy the unique landscape along the trails of Graham’s Island State Park. See how many constellations you can spot in the night sky before heading into the cabins for the evening. 

Day 4 | Cando + Belcourt + Dunseith 

Go for a morning stroll through the Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge to see migrating waterfowl overhead. Continue north to Belcourt and experience the vibrant multi-cultural traditions from the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) and the Metis/Cree people at the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center. Wrap up your road trip with a walk through the formal gardens along the border of the U.S. and Canada at the International Peace Garden, one of the continent's most symbolic and scenic attractions. 

Find more attractions, diners, and accommodations at to personalize this border-to-border tour for your own legendary North Dakota adventure.