If you find yourself in western North Dakota near the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, take a magical detour along the Enchanted Highway off I-94.
Back in the late 1980s, retired teacher Gary Greff was looking for ways to entice travelers off Interstate 94 to his tiny hometown of Regent, population 160. Inspired by the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” and its catchphrase “Build it, and they will come,” Greff figured he could create giant whimsical sculptures that celebrate North Dakota and maybe lure tourists 32 miles south of I-94.
Seven giant sculptures
Over a 30-year period, the self-taught welder erected seven colossal scrap metal artworks along a scenic two-lane highway. Beginning the journey is the 90-foot high “Geese in Flight,” (2001) at Exit 72 off I-94. Then, heading south on the Regent to Gladstone country road, travelers will find six additional huge open-air art pieces complete with pullouts and picnic tables.
Next comes “Deer Crossing” (2002), two “stylistic deer jumping an enormous fence” near Gladstone. This and the remaining sculptures, including “Grasshoppers in the Field” (1996) in Lefor, ND, are placed several miles apart.
A personal favorite is “Fisherman’s Dream” (2006), that “depicts metal trout and bass leaping 70 feet through the suspended surface of a North Dakota lake,” according to North Dakota Tourism. As you leave each art installation a green road sign tells what’s ahead and how far to the next art piece.
Continue winding your way through the rolling hills of southwest North Dakota and you will encounter “Pheasants on the Prairie” (1996) near Regent, ND. It features a pheasant family, each adult more than 50-feet long.
Next in the Roughrider State is “Teddy Rides Again” (1993) in Regent, ND. This art construction includes “a four-horse stagecoach; and a giant Roughrider Teddy Roosevelt astride a rearing horse, Lone Ranger-style.”
Just 1.5 miles north of Regent is “The Tin Family” (1991), the first to be built. In Regent, the gift store features miniatures of each statue. In 2012, Greff opened a motel, The Enchanted Castle, continuing the theme of the Enchanted Highway. Travelers can relax in the motel and restaurant, enjoying hot meals and a tavern.
Vision of One Man
One big point to remember is that without the vision of one man, self-taught artist Gary Greff, this inspirational byway adventure would never have happened. Very little “public” money was used in the construction of this creative, uplifting, vast public arts creation. According to RoadsideAmerica.com, on “most days it’s just Gary out on the Highway. He does all the repairs, cuts the grass under the statues, and builds the parking areas and fences.”
“The state of North Dakota provided $75,000 in its 2019-2020 budget to assist Greff in maintaining the sculptures; prior to that year, he had used his own money and donations to pay for upkeep,” according to Wikipedia.
If you go
Begin at I-94, Exit 72, near Gladstone, ND
Travel south along Regency-Gladstone Road 32 miles to Regent, ND.
North Dakota RV Camping Information
Just as early explorers pulled their own covered wagons, many of today’s tourists travel with recreation vehicles. To help with planning your route, the folks at North Dakota Tourism have put together a printable Eight-day RV Itinerary. Other valuable resources include: “East to West RV Camping in North Dakota” and “Create Your Legendary North Dakota RV Adventure.”