That word seems to be able to sum up the ambience of driving through North Dakota; at least it has for me. In the summer, life is abundant; farms line the horizon filled with a mixture of plants and cows. Each area has its own specialty, ranging from canola to Holsteins, with various colors providing natures pallet to draw her wonderful picture. In the winter, Jack Frost blows in flurries of snow covering the world as far as the eye can see. It really is a serene experience no matter when one decides to enjoy it. I imagine this is the feeling that consumed Gary Greff when he created the Enchanted Highway leading to Gladstone to Regent.
As the story goes, Gary had grown up in the small town of Regent about 30 miles south of I-94. With the abundant amount of farming in the area, he knew that some sort of tourism would be needed to keep his beloved town growing, or even in existence. Then one fateful day, he saw groups of cars stopping to take pictures of a “Hay bale Strongman” that a local farmer had made on the side of the road. Suddenly, he had a “Field of Dreams” type moment and knew what his destiny would be. He would build a path of sculptures leading from the interstate to his small town, ensuring a reason for travelers to make the journey off of their route. The Enchanted Highway was born.
It was late into the evening and I had spent most of the day driving through backroads and farm fields. I was looking forward to arriving at the next charger, a place where not only my car could get some juice, but where I also could receive some charge. I knew that this highway existed but it would lead me 30 miles out of the way and then I would have to drive those same thirty miles back. I decided that I would pass it up, assuming that it would be like the majority of sculpture parks in the middle of nowhere. I was lost in the rhythm of the road when all of a sudden, a silhouette of metal geese appeared off an exit.
“Flight of Geese” I read on the sign as I pulled off to get my tourist pic. This was the start of the Enchanted Highway and to be honest, I was a bit impressed. It was absolutely massive (Fun fact, this sculpture was awarded the “Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture by Guinness in 2002), towering overhead. I sat for a second to let my mind take in the atmosphere. I adored the canola fields that were blooming to the south. If the rest of the drive provided an aura like this, a treat was waiting down the highway. I decided I could delay my recharge for another few hours.
I saw two massive deer jumping into the air ahead of me. I hadn’t expected how large these sculptures would be, or how far away they were from one another. Massive is the only word I can use to describe them. I was thoroughly impressed by Gary’s tenacity as I sat below these behemoths. The amount of dedication it would take to build, design and fund all of these was awe inspiring. This mans dedication to bringing people to his town was full on.
Grasshoppers, Pheasants on a Prairie, Teddy Rides Again, The Tin Family, the names of the sculptures each brought a chuckle to my heart and viewing them brought a bit of humility. Every few miles another one would appear and I’d pull over and take a break. I have to admit though, that my favorite part about the entire experience was the drive. I couldn’t get enough of it. I had autopilot set to the speed limit as I was chauffeured into the distance, past the setting sun into an enchanted kingdom. Before I knew it, I was in Regent, pulling into a town that has to be seen to be believed.
The town consists solely of a main street lined with two gas stations, a school, a gift shop dedicated to the highway and a museum focused on the surrounding farms and prairies. At the end of the street though is the “Enchanted Castle”, a hotel/steakhouse I had seen advertised at each sculpture on my way down there. When I pulled up, I thought it was abandoned. A half built sculpture of a knight laid on the ground. A gym with boarded up windows and doors sat behind a building that looked like it once resembled a castle. The parking lot was empty. It looked like a ghost town as I walked around clicking away. Little did I know that it is still open. I googled it later that night expecting to find the history of how it closed only to be met with a page asking me to book a room. No thank you, I’ll pass, but I may have to come back to see if there is actually an operating steakhouse. I surly am intrigued.
Closest Supercharger Dickinson ND 11 mi
1681 3rd Ave W, Dickinson, ND 58601
Start of Enchanted Highway (Geese in Flight)
Exit 72 off I-94
The End of the Enchanted Highway Regent ND
607 Main St, Regent, ND 58650