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Why the Dakotas? North Dakota has more National Wildlife Refuges than any of the other 48 contiguous states, and South Dakota adds another dozen. In addition, quite a few of them have auto drives which are roads on the refuge that the public can use leisurely to view the wildlife and the scenery. The speed limit is usually 15 mph and you are welcome to pull over and stop. In the Dakotas, the auto drives are far from crowded, and your car is often an effective blind.
Although Eastern North Dakota is very flat, the middle part is lovely open country with rolling hills and river valleys snaking through it. In spring and fall, the Dakotas are great for birding because they are on a major flyway.
Around Minot, where we based ourselves, there are five National Wildlife Refuges with auto drives spread out like the fingers on your right hand and all less than an hour drive away. Starting south of Minot is Audubon and moving clockwise is Lostwood, Des Lacs, Upper Souris, and J. Clark Salyer, which is north east of Minot. On the way to Minot you can add Sand Lake in South Dakota and Arrowwood north of Jamestown in North Dakota. On both trips, it was easy to spend seven days exploring these National Wildlife Refuges with binoculars and camera.