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North Dakota

Fields of grain – green in spring and summer, bronze in fall and white in winter – stretch beyond every horizon in much of desolate North Dakota. Except for the rugged 'badlands' of the far west, geographic relief is subtle; often it's the collapsing remains of a failed homestead that break up the vista.

This is one of the least-visited states in the US. However the lack of holiday-makers doesn't mean the state is a sleepy backwater. The Bakken oil boom (named for geologic formations beneath the surface) has transformed the northwest quadrant into one vast drilling site. At night, fires burning off waste gas give the landscape hellish vistas. Once sleepy towns like Williston and Watford City have been transformed into industrial warrens.

Near the Montana border you'll find natural beauty that justifies a trip while the Missouri River is dotted with sights tied to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.