Touring The Byway
13 Miles | 3 Days/2 Nights/Optional Day 4  | Gateway City: Minot, North Dakota

During this spectacularly scenic drive there are ample opportunities for spotting a variety of wildlife, from deer and moose to more than 250 species of birds, like raptors and waterfowl. Start at U.S. Highway 52 and heads north to the end of the refuge at Ward County Road 1.

We recommend your “wild” journey begin in Minot, an area was settled by Scandinavians who came to build new lives and railroaders who helped build new towns. Filled with heritage and culture, take in Scandinavian Heritage Park which tells the story of these hardy souls as well as The Northwest Arts Center, the Taube, and The Railroad Museum.  

Kenmare is the jumping off point for the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Byway. Take the road to the Visitor Center from the middle of Kenmare making sure to stop to read the interpretive panels on the drive around the lakes.  

Des Lac National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Byway consists of a North and South auto tour divided by the town of Kenmare. Sixth Street takes you to the Refuge Visitor Center, with a large sign at the intersection of County Roads 1 and 1A. The 11-mile South Drive follows the shore of Middle Des Lakes Lake. On the drive you may see white pelicans, several species of Grebes, several species of ducks, glossy ibis, cormorants, coots, red-tailed hawks, deer, orioles, American avocets, and black crown night herons, among other birds. 

After an overnight in Kenmare, you can spend the day exploring the town. The restored historic Danish Mill that now stands as the centerpiece in Town Square Park, was built in 1902 to harness the wind for milling wheat, serving farmers for miles around until World War I.  Explore the other National Wildlife Refuge in the area – Lostwood, plus the Pioneer Village and Museum, the Historic Danish Mill, and the V and R Toy Museum.

On another optional day head back toward Minot and explore Burlington for the day.  From there, we wish you a safe and pleasant journey home, or on another North Dakota Scenic Byway.

Download the detailed itinerary for the full tour of the Byway which includes the highlighted attractions below and much more!

Highlighted Attractions

Scandinavian Heritage Park

To discover the heritage of another group of immigrants to North Dakota, the Scandinavians from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, visit the Scandinavian Heritage Park, established to honor these five cultures. Remembrances and replicas include an authentic Stabbur Stave Church, from Gol, Norway, and a 25-foot tall Swedish Dala Horse.

Taube Museum of Art

Housed in the restored Union National Bank Building, The Tabue maintains a permanent collection of works of art as well as showcasing guest artists.

Kenmare Park

Housed in the restored Union National Bank Building, The Tabue maintains a permanent collection of works of art as well as showcasing guest artists.

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge

Encompassing nearly 20,000 acres along the Des Lacs River from the Canadian border to eight miles south of Kenmare, the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge is a mix of natural lakes and wetlands that provide a haven for migrating and nesting waterfowl. In addition to the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Byway that travelers through the Refuge, Munch’s Coulee Nature Trail, is a designated National Recreation Trail which provides breathtaking views of the Lower Des Lacs Lake. Take a breather on the first bench on the trail to watch the ducks and turtles in the water. Tasker’s Coulee Wildlife Observation Area is located in a heavily wooded coulee (similar to those that the Native Americans sheltered their tipis in), offers hiking through the woodlands, teeming with forest birds, vireos, black & white warblers, black-capped chickadees and downly woodpeckers. The Canada Goose Nature Trail stretches from Middle Des Lacs Lake to Upper Des Lacs Lake. The Visitor Center features wildlife displays, bird mounts, antler sheds, furs, and interactive displays. There is an observation deck with binoculars.

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge

There is a second National Wildlife Refuge in the area, nestled in an ancient glacial moraine with mixed-grass prairie.  The scenery ranges from rolling contours to steep hills, both punctuated with wetlands and small lakes, often called “potholes.”  Lostwood was designated a Globally Important Birding Area by the American Birding Conservancy/ Audubon Society, providing habitats for prairie birds including Sprague’s pipits, Baird’s sparrows, marbled godwits, upland sandpipers, and willets.

To experience all that It's for the Birds!  has to offer, purchase the complete itinerary! 

The detailed itinerary includes: