ND: The Enchanting “Enchanted Highway”

Picture yourself: driving through the fields of North Dakota, for miles and miles on end. Nothing to see but endless expanses of farmland … the occasional mailbox … a random abandoned tractor here and there. You’re yawning and biting the inside of your cheek hard to stay awake, when suddenly … “HEY, what’s that in the distance?”

And just like that, suddenly this drive has become interesting in a VERY BIG WAY! Because you’re on The Enchanted Highway, a 32-mile stretch of an old county highway in the middle of nowhere, upon which seven enormous metal sculptures have been erected.

In the ultimate story of ambition, local farmer Gary Greff, with no artistic training and zero knowledge of how to weld, took action upon his belief that small towns are magical and deserve to be visited. He set out to create these massive …and I do mean MASSIVE! … sculptures, which all relate to the values and interests of people living in this part of North Dakota.

So until you yourself can visit The Enchanted Highway, please enjoy our photo tour of these “larger than life” wonders … with bonus points if you can spot a (relatively) “small” RV or a teeny tiny Philip in some of these photos!

GEESE IN FLIGHT

Following the path lined with individual geese, you’ll come to Geese in Flight, in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest scrap metal scupture on the planet. It is 110 feet tall and 150 feet wide (by comparison, our RV is 13 feet tall and 12 feet wide). Taking six years to complete and five cranes to lift it up and put it into place, it is made of over five miles of oil well tanks and pipes, which Gary had to drive over with his tractor to flatten, quite possibly the most farmer thing I have ever heard of.

If you are a millenial like our Rhawnie, you may recognize this sculpture because {quote} “it was an easter egg in the new stranger things season!” Being 55 years old and clueless, I have absolutely no idea what this means, but somehow it involves Johnny Depp and Edward Scissorhands and the scene below.

DEER CROSSING

Constructed in a pasture near his hometown of Regent, Gary had difficulty transporting this 70′ tall buck and 50′ tall doe to their final location. While he had measured the Main Street he had to drive down, he failed to consider the light poles lining the street. Pulling Deer Crossing on a trailer behind his truck, he wove in and out of the poles, until he reached two that were directly across from each other. What now? He was stuck. He climbed out onto the highway, cut off an antler and a leg, proceeded and then re-welded it on site when he arrived! Farmer ingenuity to the rescue!

GRASSHOPPERS IN THE FIELD

An ode to the arch-nemesis of farmers, Grasshoppers in the Field presents these pesky pests, which eat crops and fence posts. Made of multiple interlocking pieces, the largest of which is 60′ long and 40′ tall, it’s the ultimate IKEA-style assemble-by-number project. Cowboy Philip took one of the little ones for a ride! Yeee-hawwww!

FISHERMAN’S DREAM

The most intricate of all the Enchanted Highway sculptures, Fisherman’s Dream presents a 70′ rainbow trout, a 35′ northern, and various walleye, bluegill, catfish, salmon, and smallmouth bass, all of which can be caught in North Dakota. Gary built this tribute to small family fishing holes and large lakes alike, and included a model of his dad’s fishing boat for small children to climb.

PHEASANTS ON THE PRAIRIE

This sculpture celebrates the popular activity of pheasant hunting in North Dakota with a 40′ tall rooster, 35′ tall hen, and 20′ tall chicks. Gary used gravel screening mesh for the feathers and noted that this installation is not far from Mott, the Pheasant Capital of North Dakota. Did you know that although pheasant prefer to run, they can fly up to 50 MPH when frightened or chased? That’s faster than we usually drive in the RV!

TEDDY RIDES AGAIN

Teddy Rides Again is a 51′ sculpture of our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, who literally and figuratively looms large in this area. Teddy said of North Dakota, “it was here that the romance of my life began.” The Rough Rider himself is made of bent oil well pipe; the wooden stagecoach was contibuted by local carpenters who felt left out of the project and wanted to participate. The Enchanted Highway is less than 75 miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and both are well worth a visit!

THE LARGEST TIN FAMILY

The very first sculpture that Gary created, it is located closest to his hometown of Regent. He says that it emphasizes the importance of farming families in the area, and is made of fuel, oil well, and stock tanks. Dad is 45′, mom is 43′, and the beanie-cap-wearing son is 23′ (someday the artist would like to add a daughter and a dog — we eagerly await that addition). Check out mom’s frizzy barbed-wire hair … you know that prairie humidity can really wreak havok on a girl’s hairstyle!

Reaching the south end of the Enchanted Highway in Regent, you can pop into the Enchanted Highway and get miniature versions of each of these sculptures, or stay at the Enchanted Castle Hotel.

If you go: The Enchanted Highway begins at Exit 72 on I-94 near Gladstone, and runs 32 miles south to the small town of Regent. Each of them has a large parking lot that even a big RV with a tow-behind can enter and turn around, without having to unhook. The only iffy one is Teddy Rides Again, with a smaller lot and a turn in coming from the north at the top of a blind hill — use caution.

Not heading to North Dakota anytime soon? How about California? Borrego Springs has its own desert variety of larger-than-life metal sculptures! More pictures here!

From here, we’re heading to a “Close Encounter” with Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming … a reference only those of us older than 30 are likely to get!

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