Itineraries

Go on a Magical Road Trip on the Enchanted Highway

Known for its quirky roadside attractions, the Enchanted Highway promises to be a great road trip destination.

The Enchanted Highway in North Dakota is a 32-mile stretch, extending south from the Gladstone exit on I-94 to Main Street in Regent, North Dakota. This length of road is home to some of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures.

It’s also one of my favorite things to do in North Dakota.

In today’s article, I describe an itinerary to help you plan a road trip adventure to this North Dakota destination.

The Story Behind The Enchanted Highway

What are these metal sculptures doing out here anyway?

It’s a combination of effort to save a small town called Regent, artistry, and a bit of luck.

Back in the 1980s, North Dakota’s smaller rural towns were slowly becoming extinct.

Gary Greff was becoming increasingly concerned that his beloved town of Regent, North Dakota is the next to go. The knee-jerk reaction to this is to wait for a big company to come in and create jobs for small-town residents.

But at the time, their population was less than 200, there wasn’t a railroad, and their infrastructure just wasn’t up to par. Greff thought that if someone is to save their town, looking outside won’t do it.

In 1989, the road from their town to Interstate 94 was paved, and Greff picked up a newspaper and read about a local farmer that built a sculpture of a man holding a bale of hay, and people are driving up to see the sculpture and take pictures of it.

It inspired him to build huge metal sculptures to inspire people on I-94 to drive south and go through their town, which they’ll be able to do smoothly now that the road to Regent has been paved.

Greff built the first sculpture in 1989, and he’s built six additional sculptures since. Two others are currently under construction. His master plan is to create a total of 10 sculptures, as well as more amenities for the convenience of visitors coming through.

This massive project has been a success, attracting more than 224,000 visitors to the sculptures since the first sculpture went up. North Dakota is now known as the Mount Rushmore for metal art.

Enchanted Highway Itinerary

Make your way to I-94 and take Exit 72 toward Gladstone/Lefor southbound. When you’re on the approach, you’ll see the first of the sculptures welcoming travelers going toward Regent.

1. Sculpture: “Geese In Flight”

Geese in Flight

Photo Credit: minnemom

“Geese in Flight” is the only one of the sculptures visible from the highway, and serves as a stunning billboard enticing travelers to exit and head south to Regent.

The sculpture depicts Canadian geese flying against a backdrop of the sky and the prairie on the foreground.

The sunburst is made of well pipe, and the geese and fake hills are made from oil well tanks that were taken apart and welded back together to form the shapes.

At 110 feet tall and 154 wide, it holds the record for the world’s largest scrap metal sculpture, and has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records since 2002.

Essential Information
Year completed: 2001
Parking Area Available? No
Kiosk? No

2. Town: Gladstone

It’s wise to stock up on food and use the restroom before you start your road trip, but in case you feel a case of the munchies or really need to use the restroom, you can stop at the city of Gladstone to do what you need to do and buy what you need.

Gladstone has that small-town feel; one grocery store, one bar, and no chain restaurants. But that small-town feel is charming in its own way.

3. Sculpture: “Deer Crossing”

When you drive out of Gladstone back on the Enchanted Highway, the next sculpture is just a few miles ahead. “Deer Crossing” depicts a buck and a doe hopping over an enormous fence and is meant to celebrate the beauty of Regent’s native wildlife.

Deer Corssing

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull

The sculpture was made from seven oil well tanks that were “shadowed,” meaning pieces of metal were removed from sheets of metal to depict details and features of the deer’s bodies.

Essential Information
Year completed: 2002
Parking Area Available? Yes
Kiosk? Yes

4. Town: Lefor

After the “Deer Crossing” sculpture, you’ll encounter the town of Lefor. There aren’t very many residents of this town now, with less than 100 residents and most of them of Hungarian descent.

The main landmark of this town is the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, but another impressive structure that stood the test of time is the Lefor State Bank Vault.

Lefor State Bank

Photo Credit: Andrew Filer

The Lefor State Bank was built in 1913, but when the Great Depression hit, many banks closed down and the Lefor State Bank was one of them. The building was torn down but the bank vault is still standing, marked by a metal arch proclaiming this spot as the “remnants of the Lefor State Bank.”

5. Sculpture: “Grasshoppers in the Field”

After your brief pit stop in Lefor, drive down 12 miles to reach the “Grasshoppers in the Field,” featuring a group of grasshoppers made of four oil field tanks.

Grasshoppers in the Field

Photo Credit: Terry Robinson

These insects range from 12 to 40 feet tall, seemingly poised to hop. Wheat stalks around and behind them provide artistic detail and appear to celebrate the area’s wheat fields and the farming communities that maintain them.

Essential Information
Year completed: 1999
Parking Area Available? Yes
Kiosk? No

6. Sculpture: “Fisherman’s Dream”

The newest of the sculptures on the Enchanted Highway is one that’s called “Fisherman’s Dream,” illustrating a group of fish leaping through a pond surface to catch a giant dragonfly.

Fishermans Dream

Photo Credit: Terry Robinson

With dozens of colorful fish, seaweed, a tugboat, and other underwater elements, and the scales of the fish painstakingly cut individually, this sculpture is the most colorful, complex, and detailed of all the sculptures.

Essential Information
Year completed: 2007
Parking Area Available? Yes
Kiosk? No

7. Sculpture: “Pheasants on the Prairie”

“Pheasants on the Prairie” is a tribute to pheasant hunting, which is one of the popular hobbies of residents of this area.

Pheasants on the Prairie

Photo Credit: russellstreet

The sculpture consists of a rooster, a hen, and three chicks feeding, all made of pipe and wire mesh. Ironically (or perhaps unironically), the sculpture has become a home to countless birds over the years.

Essential Information
Year completed: 1996
Parking Area Available? Yes
Kiosk? Yes

8. Sculpture: “Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again”

North Dakota just loves Theodore Roosevelt, and “Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again” is a tribute to this larger-than-life personality.

This sculpture is unique in that it’s the only one of this set of sculptures that pays tribute to a person and not something from nature.

Teddy Roosevelt rides again

Photo Credit: Terry Robinson

In this wire sculpture, Teddy Roosevelt is shown riding a rearing horse, while a stage coach made of metal from oil tankers rests on the foreground.

Essential Information
Year completed: 1993
Parking Area Available? Yes
Kiosk? No

9. Sculpture: “The World’s Largest Tin Family”

The last sculpture in the Enchanted Highway is also the oldest. This amiable-looking tin family was the first of these sculptures to be completed and displayed on the roadside.

Worlds Largest Tin Family

Photo Credit: russellstreet

The father is 45 feet tall, the mother is 44 feet tall, and the son stands at 23 feet tall. All three members of the family are made of telephone poles, old oil tanks, and scrap metal from various sources.

Essential Information
Year completed: 1991
Parking Area Available? Yes
Kiosk? No

Town: Regent, North Dakota

This is the town for which the Enchanted Highway was built.

Hettinger County Historical Society Museum

Housed in multiple buildings, the Hettinger County Historical Society Museum is a well-curated museum that shows visitors how life was in a bygone era. It was a time when families spent time together at church, neighbors gossiped in barbershops, and farmers plowed the fields.

It features replicas of a school, church, and a drugstore, with authentic items and furniture inside.

Essential Information
Address: 21 Main St, Regent, ND | 701-563-7798
Hours:
Cost: Free (donations highly urged)
Website: Hettinger County Historical Society Museum

Enchanted Highway Gift Shop

The gift shop is where you can buy all sorts of souvenirs and mementos of your visit to Regent as well as the Enchanted Highway.

You can also buy miniatures of the Enchanted Highway sculptures, and features an art installation right beside the gift shop.

Essential Information
Address: 12 Main Ave S, Regent MD | 701-563-4880
Hours: 9am-6pm

There are also great places where you can eat and soak up the quiet midtown atmostphere in Regent. Here are some of them.

Cannonball Saloon

Essential Information
Address: 109 Main Ave N Regent, ND | 701-563-4626
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-1pm; Sun 12pm-10pm
Cost: $$

Medieval Tavern

Essential Information
Address: Inside the Enchanted Castle; 607 Main Street, Regent, ND | 239-770-5056
Hours: Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-1am
Menu: Bar; Appetizers; American
Cost: $$
Website: Medieval Tavern

Excalibur Steakhouse

Essential Information
Address: Inside the Enchanted Castle; 607 Main Street, Regent, ND | 701-563-4858
Menu: Steaks; Surf and Turf
Cost: $$$
Website: Excalibur Steakhouse

If you end up spending the night in this town, there are a couple of places you can spend the night in. Here are your options.

Enchanted Castle Hotel

The Enchanted Castle Hotel is yet another project of Gary Greff. A castle-themed hotel on the town’s Main Street, they have three different types of rooms: standard rooms, suites, and a honeymoon suite.

Amenities include a breakfast room, exercise and fitness center, and hot tubs. Accommodations include a continental breakfast.

The Enchanted Castle also houses the Medieval Tavern and the Excalibur Steakhouse.

Essential Information
Address: 607 Main Street, Regent, ND | 701-563-4858
Hours: 24/7
Cost: $$
Website: Enchanted Castle Hotel

Crocus Inn

In a two-story old house upgraded with modern facilities and amenities, Crocus Inn is right near the main street of Regent. It has 4 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, TV room, and dining area.

Accommodations come with free breakfast and free wi-fi. They have their own café and dining area where you can order various coffee drinks and home-cooked meals.

The Crocus Inn also has its own gift shop, where you can get various trinkets and antiques as souvenirs of your visit to Regent.

Essential Information
Address: 50 2nd St, Regent, ND | 701-563-4562
Hours: 24/7
Cost: $$
Website: Crocus Inn

Enchanted Highway Campground

If you traveled by RV, register at the Enchanted Highway gift shop to stay in this recently constructed campground that has a total of 22 RV sites, complete with hook-ups and dumping sites.

Essential Information
Address: South Railway, Regent, ND | 701-563-6400
Cost: $$
Website: Enchanted Highway Campground

Information And Tips On Visiting Regent, North Dakota

Getting To The Enchanted Highway

If going on I-94 isn’t an issue for you, that’s where you need to drive to get to the Enchanted Highway.

But if you live too far from I-94 and need to fly into North Dakota, the nearest town to the Enchanted Highway that you can fly into would be Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, but they only serve flights to and from Denver, Colorado.

Bismarck Municipal Airport serves more cities than Dickinson Airport, so this might be a better option for you.

Best Time Of Year To Visit

Mid-May to September is the best time to drive through the Enchanted Highway and stay in the town of Regent.

What To Expect In Your Road Trip

Keep an eye out for signs near each sculpture with phone numbers you can call to dial in to get an audio description and explanation of each sculpture.

The entire Enchanted Highway is a mere 35 miles, so even if you stop per sculpture, you can make the entire drive in 5 to 6 hours. If driving back seems daunting, you can spend the night in Regent.

In 2019, North Dakota lawmakers budgeted $75,000 to maintain the sculptures along the Enchanted Highway, but initially, all the funding for this project came from Greff’s own pocket, as well as contributions from visitors and proceeds from the gift shop in town.

Do your part to ensure that the Enchanted Highway lives on by buying something from the gift shop, and contribute whenever you have a chance.

Go On An Enchanted Highway Road Trip This Weekend!

Much has been written about the demise of small towns in America, and this article isn’t meant to delve into the many reasons and factors that come into play.

What we can do is try to keep them alive, one small town at a time.

I hope you find the time to pass by the Enchanted Highway if you ever come into North Dakota to appreciate small-town values, charm, and natural beauty.

Other panoramic places in the country to go on a road trip

If you won’t be visiting or passing through North Dakota anytime soon, or simply want something different out of your road trip, here are other interesting places to go on a road trip:

Does the Enchanted Highway sound like a worthy detour? Or are there roadside sculptures more compelling than these? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Cover photo credit: russellstreet