Tag Archives: exploring western North Dakota

The Secret Pine Forest Of Western North Dakota

It was about six years ago that I first heard of the secret pine forest of western North Dakota, and that was one of only two times that anyone would ever speak to me about it. Men in their 60s-80s who had worked and traveled through western North Dakota for their entire lives would pretend that they knew nothing about it.

For those of you not familiar with western North Dakota, there are very few trees. You can pull over to the side of the road on an interstate or highway, stand outside of your vehicle, turn in a full 360 degree circle looking miles away toward the horizon, and count fewer than a dozen shabby trees.

Western North Dakota is mostly tree-less vacant prairie grassland, or desolate barren badlands with wind-eroded buttes, canyons, and desert ravines with a few mesquite trees. It was not surprising to me that North Dakotans wanted to keep the pine forest a secret. I didn’t even know if there actually was one.

Since I bought a more reliable motorcycle in the Fall of 2020, I have been taking motorcycle rides that have no other purpose than to explore western North Dakota. Usually I do either a little or a lot of research before I go somewhere on my motorcycle, because not only is it very easy to get lost, run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, but if I were to become injured or stranded in the sparsely populated areas of western North Dakota, it would be so much more likely for the local people to kill me.

You don’t ever want to stop where anyone is around or a vehicle is approaching out in the middle of nowhere in western North Dakota, because the local people will come over and ask you what you are doing and try to determine if “you’re not from here.” See, if you keep going and don’t slow down, the local people might think that you were invited or are related to someone in that area, but if you come to a stop, they are going to try to find out. Don’t ever, ever get caught trying to take a picture of something on someone’s property!

I accidentally, unintentionally found the secret pine forest of western North Dakota about one month ago, but I was too scared to come to a stop and take pictures of it because I didn’t know my way around that area. I had to wait several weeks before I could travel through that area again on my motorcycle, in order to not draw any attention. Here are some photos, which I had to take very hastily:

Here are some other trees from this same area:

When I was riding my motorcycle to this area traveling north on a red scoria chip road, I saw in my side mirror that there was a pickup truck coming up fast behind me, so I pulled over to the side of the road to let this pickup truck pass. I had to ride another five miles traveling north before I had to make a left turn onto a different, smaller road. After I had ridden another several miles west on this much narrower road, there was an oncoming pickup truck driving fast towards me, that I had to pull over to the side of the road to allow it to pass.

I rode another several miles west on the narrower road, before I turned south onto an even narrower road, which I thought could have been a private road. When I came up to what appeared to be private property consisting of a house and shop building, I turned around in order to try to get back quickly to what was most likely a public road.

When I reached the public road, I stopped to take my motorcycle helmet off because it was very hot, and I wanted to take some photographs of the pine trees. Here came the same pickup truck for the third time. I hadn’t realized that this was the same truck that had come up behind me going fast, had gotten ahead of me and turned around to pass me oncoming, and had now come up from behind me to meet me for a third time.

This time I was stopped and off my motorcycle, which allowed the opportunity for the person driving the pickup truck to stop and find out if “you’re not from here.” The driver of the pickup truck let me know that I was going to have problems if I was there when it got dark. I had a North Dakota license plate on my motorcycle. If I would have been driving a vehicle with a California license plate, or if they would have seen me taking photographs, they probably would have phoned, radioed, or met with their neighbors to make a plan to shoot me, dig a hole, drag my vehicle away, and bury everything.

Beach And Golf Resort In Western North Dakota

During the Winter of 2020-2021 I had thought about videoing my motorcycle rides through the abandoned towns of western North Dakota when it warmed up in May. I was inspired to do this from watching the “Adventure Rides” on YouTube that were made primarily by BMW motorcycle riders.

You can either scroll back through my blog post articles or use the search bar on my website to read about some of the old abandoned towns that I had looked up and done some research on.

Due to the Coronavirus travel restrictions, and some other problems, I had not been back to my home in a small Idaho town from approximately August of 2019 until March of 2021. I had no idea, but during the 1-1/2 years that I was gone, about 100-200 people from California had moved in. This may not seem like enough people to affect anything, but it completely changed the character of this small Idaho town.

I am not going to dwell on this in this blog post, but to give an example, across the street from my house in Idaho, the 80-acre farm field was recently developed into 1/2-acre lots with new $500K houses. Nobody in this town can afford a $500K house, they are all for the Californians.

Because of what I just experienced in Idaho, I completely changed my plans to video my “Adventure Rides” through western North Dakota, because I do not want Californians and developers to get the idea that this would be the next place to try to ruin. I know that I can count on the local people here in western North Dakota to continue to be mean, nasty, hostile, unfriendly, and uncooperative to discourage anyone from moving here.

Instead of videoing my motorcycle rides, explaining and showing where I am, I might from time-to-time just show a few pictures, and not tell where they were taken. I am surprised at some of the things that I see, once I travel a few miles away from paved roads and highways.

On Memorial Day, I came across a few abandoned homes on my motorcycle ride, but one of these old farms had its own small lake, with what appeared to be White Sand Beaches. White Sand Beaches, in North Dakota? I stopped and looked at this, not only did this lake have white sand beaches, it had a few white sand bars in the middle. I pictured young women and housewives sunning themselves wearing Bikinis, children playing in the water, and a couple of Sunfish Sailboats meandering along:

Tropical White Sand Beaches in North Dakota (click to enlarge image)

I rode another mile or two, and just as I came over a hill, I saw what appeared to be almost a Golf-Course-like greenbelt strip. I stopped and took a photo, but when I rode past this greenbelt strip, it did not lead to a house, this strip was trees and grass only, that extended about 1/2 mile. This could be its own Golf Course, out in the middle of nowhere:

Golf Course in the middle of nowhere North Dakota (click to enlarge image)

A few miles further, there was quite a long lake, with some old tree growth, which was very surprising to see in western North Dakota:

Farm Lake with some old trees (click to enlarge image)

I will just throw in one last photo that shows an old house that is no longer being lived in. This is a fairly large house, probably 100 years old. You can’t see it in this photo, but on the back side of this house, there is a very large upstairs outside porch deck. This upstairs outside porch deck is about 20ft x 30ft, large enough for the entire family and some of their friends. You don’t often see this kind of frivolous recreational amenity in old North Dakota houses:

Old North Dakota Farm House with upstairs outdoor deck (click to enlarge image)

I like to stop and think about what it must have been like to sit out on the upstairs deck on warm Summer nights, far far from anywhere, with total darkness for miles that would enable you to see thousands of stars in the sky. Or what it must be like to have your own private forest and lake on your farm, with no neighbors for miles.

Even though this looks appealing, I need to give people who aren’t from here, the warning that it gets down to -50 degrees Fahrenheit in the Winter here, and during some months the wind gusts exceed 100 mph across this prairie grassland.

Whenever you see one of these abandoned farm houses, it’s not unusual for people to no longer live in these houses because the electrical, plumbing, heating, and water-well are far outdated, with no insulation whatsoever in these houses. But the acreage is still being farmed, so no, these houses can’t be bought cheap, these houses can’t be bought at all because the farmers won’t sell them.