Touring the Byway
63 Miles | 4 Days/3 Nights Optional Days 5 and 6 | Gateway City: Bismarck, North Dakota
Quaint towns and charming farmsteads are featured along this tree-lined route. The rolling hills and luscious scenery lend to its Americana charm as you dive in to the archaeology, history, culture, and recreational attractions found along the way! Begins at Getchell Township Hall on Barnes County Highway 21, along Highways 17 and 19, through Valley City, proceeding on Highway 21 to Ransom County Highway 13 to Lisbon.
On North Dakota’s first nationally recognized scenic byway, we recommend starting your journey in Bismarck. Take the time to learn more about the state at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum which traces North Dakota’s history for 600 million years. The next morning, the turn of the century village at Buckstop Junction brings together 41 buildings to showcase turn-of-the-century North Dakota. From there, you’ll be headed for Valley City, the center piece of the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway.
The flavor of the Sheyenne River Valley can be found at the Rosebud Visitor Center. Be sure to take the Valley City Historic Bridges Tour (there are an amazing seven historic bridges right in town). Other stops include getting a glimpse of Native American history at Medicine Wheel Park, and a visit to the Barnes County Museum which is housed in a 20,000 sq. ft. historic department store.
The village of Kathryn, which appears to have dropped out of a Western movie hosts the 1900 Waldheim Church, a charming white clapboard with a pretty steeple that dates back 1886, reminiscent of the Norwegian homeland of the people who here. From there, you’ll be headed to the village of Fort Ransom, presided over by a natural hill that forms a near-perfect pyramid, with a towering Viking statue on top.
The next day after exploring Fort Ransom State Park and the other historic attractions, head to Lisbon, home to the Lisbon Opera House and Scenic Movie Theater, the oldest continuously running theater in the United States, both at the southern end of the Byway.
At the end of the day, head to Fargo for the evening and to explore more intriguing North Dakota heritage. From there, we wish you a safe and pleasant journey home or an adventure on another North Dakota Byway.
Download the detailed itinerary for the full tour of the Byway which includes the highlighted attractions below and much more!
Valley City developed a tour to showcase its beautiful historic bridges, that begins at the Rosebud Visitor Center. The most famous is the 3860-foot Hi-Line Bridge which soars 162 feet overhead, as it traverses the riverbed. It was the longest and highest single-track rail bridge in the country at the time of construction in 1908.
Located on the campus of Valley City State University, Medicine Wheel Park’s 30 acres encompasses a unique mix of nature, science, and history including two solar calendar replicas, 12 Native American Burial Mounds, scenic overlooks, woodland nature trails, an astronomy observation site, solar system model, and a perennial flower garden.
The centerpiece hand-hewn oak log cabin that stands on its original fieldstone foundation was built in 1876 by Carl Jenson and his nephew Jon Bjerke on the east bank of the Sheyenne River. Since then, the Wadeson Cabin has served as a community hall, country store, pioneer home, and, finally, as an icehouse.
Nestled in the picturesque and heavily wooded Sheyenne River Valley, Fort Ransom State Park illustrates the lives of the area’s 19th-century homesteading sodbusters and the Mound Builders who lived here 5000 to 8000 years ago. The 950-acre site encompasses the Bjone House homestead and the Andrew Sunne Farm. The annual Sodbuster Days celebration with demonstrations and exhibits of early homesteading life is held here. A short segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail winds through the park, along with about 20 miles of additional trails.
The iconic Scenic Theater right down the street from the Lisbon Opera House opened in 1911 with a 10-minute black-and-white movie. The theater, which proclaims to be the oldest continuously running theater in America has been updated with modern digital technology, surrounded with beautiful art deco design.