Founded in 1902 by settlers from Tioga, NY, this small town is commonly referred to as the Oil Capital of North Dakota. The dramatic population increase in Tioga in the 1950’s was due to the discovery of oil nearby in the Williston Basin. Since then, Tioga’s population has experienced an exciting growth spurt due to increased oil activity. While the city itself is nice to visit, there are many must-see attractions just a short drive away. Check out these things to do if you have a free day while you’re in Tioga.
Located about 70 miles southwest of Tioga, the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center provides education of the history and prehistory of the confluence of the two massive rivers as well as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The 2.2 million dollar center features exhibits, artifacts and an interpretive walking trail, that display the important history, geography and geology of the area and it’s impact on North Dakota.
The Links North Dakota Golf Course is located 30 miles south of Tioga, ND. A Golfweek Magazine Top 100 Golf Course, the course was designed with an authentic “links” style golfing experience in mind. The 18 hole championship golf course, located in the heart of the Bakken Oil Formation, overlooks Lake Sakakawea and is a must play if you are in the area. As one of the nation’s top golf venues, The Links North Dakota now offers “Stay and Play” packages that includes a stay in one of the 12 cabins on the property. PGA instruction, family lessons, a practice facility, RV parking and a golf shop are a few of the many amenities The Links has to offer.
Founded in 1947, the historic Theodore Roosevelt State Park is only a three-hour drive from Tioga. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about westward expansion and the cattle ranching boom in North Dakota in the 1880’s as well as the history behind Theodore Roosevelt’s cattle ranching days. Park visitors also have the opportunity to explore Roosevelt’s original ranch cabin and learn about his conservation policy as well as the geology of the badlands. The park also offers hiking trails, backcountry camping and kayaking on the The Little Missouri River. Visitors can expect to see a wide variety of Great Plains mammals including bison, elk and bighorn sheep. This state park is a must-see when in North Dakota!
Located one block east of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park entrance, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame tells the stories of Native Americans, ranchers and rodeo riders on the North Dakota plains. The interpretive center features western cultural exhibits, a Hall of Honorees, theater, gift shop and an open-air patio with magnificent views of the Little Missouri River. The Cowboy Hall of Fame is open from mid-May to mid-September and by reservation only during the off-season.
A little over two hours from Tioga, ND, Lake Sakakawea is one of the three largest man-made reservoirs in the nation. Created in the 1950’s as part of the Missouri River system, the reservoir is 178 miles long. The State Park is located on the south shore of the lake and offers visitors a wide variety of recreational amenities including a full-service marina, fishing guide services, boat and camper storage, hiking trails, sleeping cabins and beach access for swimming. Park visitors also have access to arguably the best salmon fishing anywhere on the lake.
Located almost 100 miles southeast of Tioga is the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. Located in the Prairie Pothole Region, also known as the “Duck Factory” of North America, the refuge provides food, water, shelter and space for a variety of wildlife species including threatened and endangered species. Visitors are offered a unique opportunity to learn about wildlife and habitat through exhibits, trails and tours of the refuge. Ice fishing and hunting are permitted in some areas of the refuge. Spring and fall are great seasons to visit the refuge, as visitors have the opportunity to witness the migration of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds.
This national historic site is located about and hour and a half away from Tioga, ND, along the Knife River. Visitors of the Knife River Indian Villages are invited to learn about Native American history, Lewis and Clark exploration as well as Natural Science including Meteorology and Astronomy. There are many exhibits to explore and historic archeological sites that feature artifacts from the Northern Plains Indians. Hiking trails, bird watching and fishing are all available to visitors.
Experience the scenic North Dakota Badlands with a stay at the Buffalo Gap Guest Ranch, located at the Buffalo Gap trailhead, about three hours southwest of Tioga. The ranch offers guests full-service lodging and trail riding opportunities along the historic Buffalo Gap Trail as well as arena and stable facilities for animals. The ranch has large populations of wild game available for hunting with a proper license and even game processing on site.
A little road trip 300 miles southeast of Tioga will bring you to the National Buffalo Museum. Founded in 1991, the museum was built to foster awareness of the cultural and historic significance of the North American bison. The museum also exhibits Plains Indian artifacts, 19th century firearms used by bison hunters, remains of prehistoric bison as well as a wide variety of artwork. A live buffalo herd is also maintained by the museum, which includes around 30 animals and one rare albino buffalo, White Cloud. For visitors traveling to Tioga, ND, from the East, the National Buffalo Museum represents the beginning of the “wild west”.
About 100 miles south of the National Buffalo Museum is North Dakota’s only restored bonanza farm. In 2005, the Bagg Farm was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Located in the Red River Valley, once the country’s furthest outpost, the Bagg Bonanza Farm marked the beginning of a prosperous farming community. Visitors are invited to tour and learn about bonanza farm life and past generations that helped build the large-scale farming industry. The farm offers barn rentals for events such as weddings, conferences, meetings and family reunions.
When visiting the Oil Capital of North Dakota, make sure to check out the surrounding things to do and attractions that are mostly just a short drive away. While North Dakota has a very rich history and a lot to experience, these ten stops on the map should be at the top of your list!