sunset over Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Unit

US HWY 2 Going West

What has been the longest stretch of road of your life?  We have traveled a lot of boring roads over the years. But US Hwy 2 going west across North Dakota might be the worst.  Now, I will say that the Minnesota and Montana portions were beautiful and interesting most of the time.  The North Dakota section, though, was some monotonous driving.  I’ve heard that when the sunflowers are blooming it is much more scenic; however, mid-June is not the time.

North Dakota sign

We had already been on a three day road trip up The Great River Road when we started this part of the drive. It was a very pastoral and scenic drive.  We were prepared for this section of road and went into it with a good attitude and lots of snacks.  I also want to add that I am thankful for all of the crops that we drove through, but, man, did we drive through a lot of them!

the long drive begins across hwy 2 west

The Minnesota section of 2 was really lovely with many lakes and streams.  It was here that we said a true good-bye to the Great River Road as we found the headwaters of the Mississippi.  The North Country is also very rugged and interesting.  Kenny said that the best breakfast of the trip was along this section of road as well.

As we neared North Dakota the landscape began to look more prairie-like minus the grass.  Neither of us had ever been to North Dakota. However, we had traveled to South Dakota and had in mind what we thought ND would be like.  Highway 2 did not give us what we expected. 

Thriving Economy evident on uS hwy 2 going west

We saw the signs of a thriving oil and agricultural economy.  Getting gas was not a problem like some of the videos we had watched suggested due to many small towns.  We do have a small car, though. When we got to our destination for the night in Williston, ND, we were amazed to find a thriving city.  We were also completely exhausted with being on the road at this point.

Thriving economy evident along US Hwy 2 going west

Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit

Being really tired, we debated whether or not to travel the extra hours to Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit.  Deciding we would probably never be back that way again, we ate dinner and headed to the park. We were so glad we did. 

We really did not catch a glimpse of the canyons that we had been expecting since entering ND until we were less than a mile from the park entrance. This was nearing sunset and it was breathtaking!  I cannot fully describe the scene except to say the canyon walls were brightly lit in some areas and pastel shadows in others. The Missouri River was winding through. 

We had just driven past the entrance when a bison came running straight toward us!  We drove the 28 miles round trip through the unit and back while the sun made its final descent.  It was still glowing when we left the park and headed back to Williston. So, we went to bed feeling satisfied with our trip through ND and along HWY 2 up until that point.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Unit
Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Unity
sunset at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Unit

Continuing West on Hwy 2

The next day we got up early and continued our journey.  We crossed into Montana very soon after and the landscape subtly changed again. There began to be less commercial farming and more homesteads and Native American Heritage sites.  We really enjoyed the way that the Fort Belknap Reservation had decorated their roundabouts with items symbolic to them. 

The towns that we passed through in Montana were also very authentically western.  More hills and small canyons would pop up occasionally as well.  We saw our first pronghorn of the trip about three hours in standing still as a statue in the grass.  We also ate a great lunch at Jenny’s Kitchen in Havre, Montana.  The food was good but the decor is what made us feel like we were finally out west.

Montana sign along US Hwy 2 Going West

After another long day of driving the prairie, we began to see the peaks of Glacier National Park in the distance.  Shortly it became more mountainous and we saw the first mountain goats of the trip licking salt from high cliffs.  We continued on highway 2 until we reached our rental in Hungry Horse, Montana.

View of Glacier National Park on US Hwy 2 going west

Reflecting on US Hwy 2 going west

Driving US Highway 2 is not for the impatient.  We spent a full two days of our travel time on this road and there was not a lot to interest us.  Miles of soybeans, and sometimes corn or wheat, came into view every time we thought the land might change.  The only thing that added a little enjoyment was when we would see a soybean field in bloom.  However, this trip across the top of the Corn Belt gave us a greater understanding of the amount of crops it takes to feed a nation.  I sure am thankful for those who work so hard to feed us all and for the land that God has provided!

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