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Driving Through North Dakota’s Black Gold Rush

Driving Through North Dakota’s Black Gold Rush

North Dakota is experiencing an oil boom in the Bakken Formation. US 2 runs right through the middle of this area in the state’s northwest quadrant.

I had heard stories about traffic jams, massive amounts of trucks and no available hotel rooms before planning my trip on US 2 from Minnesota across North Dakota into Montana. Most of the complaints I found to be untrue.

  • I had no traffic jams except for a small section of highway going through the town of Williston.
  • Although there were massive amounts of trucks, they all traveled the speed limit and did not negatively affect my travel.
  • I had no problem finding a hotel room with an advance reservation, and I called the hotel ahead to reconfirm.

However, be prepared for sticker shock.

Everything is more expensive in this region. Hotel rooms are limited but available. In the Williston area, the average nightly rate for a standard mid-range chain hotel is $200 to $300.

If you don’t need to be in Williston, then I suggest staying in Minot, where there is more availability and the room rates are lower. The Montana cities of Sidney and Culbertson, as well as Watford City, North Dakota, are also alternatives.

No matter where you choose to stay, definitely make reservations ahead of time. I recommend calling the hotels directly. Even if online reflects no availability, this might not be the actual case. Friday and Saturday nights are generally the best option.

Driving through the immense amount of commerce taking place reminded me of the children’s book “Busytown.” The majority of billboards along the highway do not advertise roadside attractions or lodgings but job openings and companies looking to hire. North Dakota’s unemployment hovers at about 3 percent.

This modern-day gold rush is an incredible sight to witness.

AAA.com's Williston Travel Guide provides a destination overview, plus suggested accommodations, restaurants and attractions.