What is North Dakota Known For? (18 Things It’s Famous For)

North Dakota is a state in the Upper Midwest of the Continental United States. The state capital is Bismarck, but Fargo’s the largest metropolitan area. The state is mostly flat, undulating plains and prairies and is mainly an agricultural hub renowned for its produce. It is also home to the protected Nokota horses, a breed unique to the Badlands. It’s also the home of the world’s largest burger, which people flipped in Rutland in 1982. President Theodore Roosevelt described the area as a world of beauty, color, and limitless space because of its splendid features.

North Dakota is known for its pristine countryside vistas, outdoor fun attractions, and Midwestern way of living. The state is part of the Great Plains region and has the topography and geographic features to prove it. North Dakota is rife with steppes, savannas, prairies, badlands, and farmlands.

Early Inhabitants

North Dakota was the stronghold of various Native American tribes for thousands of years. The Manda, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes thrived along the Missouri River, while the Cree and Ojibwa tribes established their territory in the northeastern part of the state. The Sioux tribes of Yankton, Teton, Wahpeton, and Assiniboine occupied the rest of the area. European explorers began to settle in the area to hunt for fur in the early 18th century.

Basic Geopolitical Factoids

It is the nineteenth largest state with 70,704 square miles or 183,123 square kilometers. However, it is the fourth-least populated state, with only 780,000 North Dakotans calling the state home. The Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are to its northern boundaries, while the state of Minnesota is to its eastern front. South Dakota lies in its southern region, with Montana bordering its westernmost bounds.

Peace Garden State

North Dakota is referred to as the Peace Garden State mainly because it partially houses the International Peace Garden. The garden overlaps with the Manitoban territory and was established in 1932 to commemorate the lasting peace between the two nations. The legislative body approved the designation of The Peace Garden State as the official state nickname in 1957.

Roughrider State

Another alternative state nickname is the Roughrider State. When the USA fought with the Spaniards during the Spanish-American War, the nickname Rough Riders was given to the members of the First United State Volunteer Cavalry, who had several North Dakotan cowboys enlisted in its ranks. They were also known as Roosevelt’s Rough Riders after their previous commander Colonel Leonard Wood became commander of the Second Cavalry Brigade and Roosevelt became their beloved commander.

Other Notable Monikers

The state was also recognized as the Flickertail State owing to the abundance of Richardson ground squirrels. The squirrels were renowned for the characteristic flicking of their tails before they entered their burrows. Another nickname that North Dakota is known for is The Sioux State. In the Sioux language, the term Dakota means friend.

Enchanted Highway

Traveling through the state can be cumbersome because grasslands and farms surround most roads. The monotony can be problematic, so retired school principal and teacher Gary Greff of Regent (a town south of the state) erected seven scrap metal sculptures every few miles. The project started in 1991, and in 2001, the Guinness Book of World records recognized the installation “Geese in Flight” as the largest metal sculpture in the world.


President Roosevelt, an avid sportsman, visited the state in 1883 to hunt bison and marveled at the beauty of the Badlands and the North Dakotan vista. The Badlands now are part of the 70,000-acre Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park is divided into two areas 50 miles apart, with Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch in the middle. The Rangers provide guided tours and talks about nature and President Roosevelt between Memorial Day and September.

Nation’s Food Basket

North Dakota’s number 1 industry is agriculture, with about 90 percent of the state devoted to 30,000 family farms, each with an average size of 1300 acres. The state provides the country with nearly half of its spring wheat supply. It is also notable for producing sunflower, durum wheat, barley, lentils, oats, honey, canola, flaxseed, and edible beans such as dry navy and pinto.

Iconic Home-Cooked Food

North Dakota is a melting pot of cultures as immigrants of Russian-German or Scandinavian descent settled in the area, bringing their country’s cuisines with them. Among the food North Dakota is known for are their walleye fish cooked several ways, hot beef or turkey sandwich, which is a sandwich topped with either beef or turkey, cut in the middle with a generous helping of mashed potatoes and gravy. If you’re craving desserts, you should try their Special K bars, or if you want comfort food, there’s a kuchen for your cravings.

Delicious Food That’s Hard to Pronounce

You read it right. North Dakota has a ton of delicious food, but they’re hard to pronounce. Examples are knoephla, krumkake, fleischkuechle, lefse, and kase knephla. Knoephla is a dumpling commonly used in soups, but some recipes call for chicken, potatoes, and dumplings, served as thickly as possible. Krumkake, meanwhile, is a waffle cookie made of flour, eggs, butter, cream, and sugar and can be eaten plain or filled with whipped cream and other toppings. Fleischkuechle is a traditional meat pie, while lefse is a Norwegian flatbread. Kase knephla is a dough with cheese filling.

Home of the World’s Largest Burger

On June 26, 1982, North Dakotans cooked and flipped the world’s largest hamburger in Rutland. The burger weighed a whopping 3,591 pounds, and they cooked it on a single grill. Part of the grill still is on display today in Rutland. An estimated 8,000 people got invited to share the meal as part of the “Grand Daddy of All Celebrations.”

Zen Master’s Origins

NBA head coach and winner of 13 championships (2 as a player for the New York Knicks and 11 as a coach for the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers) Phil Jackson played for another legendary coach Bill Fitch at the University of North Dakota. Known for his freakishly long arms, Jackson got drafted by the Knicks in 1967 and notched two championships during the 1970 and 1973 seasons. He later coached the Bulls to two three-peats and the LA Lakers to five crowns.

North Dakotan Slugger

Record-setting Major League Baseball player Roger Maris grew up in Fargo and attended Shanley High. He later played baseball for the New York Yankees, where he set the most home runs in 1961 with 61 home run hits. He held the record until 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa topped him. After Maris died in 1985, they commemorated his life with an annual celebrity golf tournament known as the Roger Maris Open. The proceeds of the latter fund cancer research and his high school alma mater.

Ginger Jesus’s Home State

Quarterback Carson Wentz starred at North Dakota State University, leading his team to five NCAA Football Championship Subdivisions. He got selected second overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, whom he led to the 2017 NFL Superbowl Championship. He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2021 for a first-round and third-round pick. In 2022, he was traded to the Washington Commanders (formerly the Redskins) for three draft picks.

Home State of The Wiz

Many people know about the successful rapper Wiz Khalifa, but not many realize that he grew up in Minot, North Dakota. Born Cameron Jibril Thomaz on September 8, 1987, he spent time in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom because he was a military brat. He began performing in his teens, and he adopted the name Wiz Khalifa coming from the words wisdom and the Arabic word Khalifa, which means successor.

Celebrations Galore!

North Dakota loves its events and celebrations. According to the North Dakota tourism website, there are at least 300 events that people can join year-round. Among the most popular festivals is the Potato Bowl, where North Dakota plays Idaho in a football game with several side events, including food fests, giveaways, and golf scrambles. The Applefest is also another foodie haven celebrated in September, where people get to enjoy festival food, tractor races, live music, fun runs, and a lively parade.

Famous Landmarks and National Parks

For those who love exploring the outdoors, North Dakota has something for everyone. The Devil’s Pass is the longest single-track biking trail in the USA and is famous for the challenging 45m drop on either side of the ridge route. If you like swimming or fishing, you can try visiting Lake Sakakawea, which is open year-round for campers, anglers, and boaters. Finally, if birdwatching is your thing, you can visit Devil’s Lake, where you can also enjoy fishing for perch and walleye.

Cost of Living in North Dakota  

Living in North Dakota is relatively cheaper than in the rest of the country. Goods and services cost an average of 9.4% less in the state than in other places in the USA. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the state has the 16th lowest cost of living, with an average per capita of $36,289 per annum or about $3,024 per month.