Bismarck Travel Guide

This North Dakota city, set on the banks of the Missouri River, holds miles of walking trails, a 50-year-old zoo and the tallest building in the state.

The capital of North Dakota, Bismarck was founded on the spot where explorers Lewis and Clark crossed the Missouri River. Swim in the river, hike along wooded trails, and climb to the top of the Capitol Building in the state’s second-largest city.

A good way to get a bird’s-eye view of Bismarck is with a visit to the Capitol Building. This 18-floor cement building is the tallest in North Dakota. Climb up to the observation deck on the top floor to look out over the grassy mall and the Missouri River to the east. Notice the red and white petunias planted in front of the Capitol to spell “North Dakota.”

Explore the area around the Missouri River to see the beautiful countryside along the longest river in North America. Rent a bike to ride along the Riverfront Trail, which extends from Pioneer Park several miles north of town all the way to the Riverwood Golf Course in the south. If the water is low enough, wade out to the sand bars up by Pioneer Park.

Reserve a seat on the Lewis and Clark Riverboat for an hour-long ride along the river in an old steamboat. Take a history cruise to learn more about the area’s heritage, or book a sunset cruise to watch the day fade over the river.

Don’t forget to save time for a visit to the Dakota Zoo. With over 600 animals, this 50-year-old zoo is the largest in North Dakota. Walk through the exhibits among the trees on the bank of the Missouri River. Highlights include snow leopards, tigers, and river otters.

You can reach Bismarck by plane through the Bismarck Municipal Airport, which is about a 15-minute drive to the south of town.  The nearest major city is Minneapolis, Minnesota, and there are several bus lines which make the trip. Within Bismarck, you can get around by bus, but it is best to have a car to reach the parks on the outer edges of the city.

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