It is situated directly on the 49th parallel only a short distance from the Geographical Center of the North American continent. This is on the borders of both North Dakota in the United States and Manitoba in Canada. You should visit the International Peace Garden not only for it’s beauty, but for what it symbolizes, peace between nations.
The idea to form a garden in the middle of the North American continent began in the late 1920’s. Canada and the United States wanted to do something to symbolize the peace between two nations which had existed from the beginning.
Finally, in 1932, the International Peace Garden was formally dedicated. The Civilian Conservation Corps began building structures in the garden, some of which can still be found there today. This unique place is a must visit location that stands for peace not only between the US and Canada, but, in hopes, for all nations.
Things to See and Do in the International Peace Garden
There are many things to do while visiting the International Peace Garden. I suggest trying to spend at least a couple of days to really get a chance to explore. Here are just a few of the things to see and do during your visit:
- The 9/11 memorial
- Carillon bell tower
- Gift shop and cafe
- Bike ride
- Interpretive center
- Peace chapel
- Game Warden Museum
- And much more
This place is more than just a beautifully cultivated landscape. It is unique. You might be reminded of a National Park, a state park, and a botanical garden all wrapped up in one. It has so much to offer.
The East Side of the Garden
When you first enter the garden you can go either right, towards Canada, or left, towards the United States. While in the International Peace Garden, however, you are in neither.
The road loops around the entire garden and there is plenty of parking all around. Several picnic areas are also available throughout the garden with tables and trash cans. The path around is paved and not too long, but you can drive and then stop at different locations if you prefer.
By parking near the entrance on either side you will enter the east side of the Peace Garden. This is where you will find a beautiful fountain with the Promise of Peace sculpture. It is a recent addition as the previous one did not hold up to the inclement weather, this one was dedicated in 2016.
This new sculpture is made of stainless steel and will hopefully bear the outdoor weather better than the last. When you see the two hands cupped together releasing a dove and hear the quiet sound of running water, you will be filled with your own sense of peace.
View this post on Instagram
Walk the paved path along either side of the garden to enjoy the beautiful flowers and stream that runs through the center. You will come to some gates, these are here to keep out the deer, but people are free to walk through anytime. It takes you into the sunken garden.
This area in itself could be the one reason you should visit the International Peace Garden. You will suddenly be surround by literally thousands of plants. There is a large pool in the center with a fountain and waterfall fountains on either side as well.
Sit in one of several benches around the fountain to take in the beauty or walk around admiring all the incredible diversity of plants surrounding you. Whatever you choose I am sure you will feel the sense of peace that this place is meant to instill.
By being able to walk freely between two countries and observing that there is little difference on the surface, you may begin to realize the significance of this location. What it represents is just as great as what it is.
Held within the walls of the Interpretive Center is something amazing. One of the largest collections of cacti and succulents you can imagine. This is surprising because the border of North Dakota and Canada is an unlikely place to encounter cacti and succulents, especially by the thousands!
This collection is amazing though and definitely worth seeing. The variety of plants you can see is astounding with everything from commonplace to rare and unusual. We spent half a day just wandering through and if it weren’t for our youngest finally dragging us away, we may have spent much longer. It is something you should visit the International Peace Garden to see.
The Interpretive Center also houses a gift shop, restrooms, and a small cafe with reasonably priced food items. We were able to purchase our souvenir magnet which is something we like to do at the places we visit. There is also a really neat map on the wall where you can place a pin on your home. They have both a US and world map so everyone can participate.
Carillon Bell Tower and 9/11 Memorial
The Carillon Bell Tower was originally purchased by two sons in memory of their mother, Lady Arma Sifton. The Westminster Chime that you hear rang for 42 years at the First Methodist Church of Brandon, but the bells were originally cast in Croydon England in 1931.
These bells were donated because the original church joined with another church and no longer needed them. North Dakota Veterans organizations were able to raise money in order to re-house the bells in the International Peace Garden. The bells can be heard ringing throughout the garden every 15 minutes, during the warmer months.
This bell tower is a great example of Canadians and Americans working together. By their combined efforts this bell tower’s mellifluous chime can be heard. It is dedicated to all war veterans and the chimes can help us to remember all who have served.
While the bell tower is found on the Canadian side of the garden, the 9/11 memorial is almost directly across the garden on the American side. Here again is a wonderful example of these two nations working together. While these alone may not be reason enough that you should visit the International Peace Garden, they are pretty cool to see (and hear).
The Canadian government and Manitoba Territory provided the funds to move the steel girders from the original Twin Towers in New York to the International Peace Garden. They understood the significance of this event, not just for America, but for the world. They greatly contributed to establishing this memorial in a place where it can help us better understand the necessity of the Peace Garden.
Step Inside the Peace Chapel
On the south side of the garden you will find the Peace Chapel. Looking at it from the outside you probably wouldn’t even realize it is a chapel. There is no fancy stained glass or steeples. The building is simple.
Inside there are seats all around and a podium in the middle. A place to sign the guest book greets you at the entrance. The real reason to step inside, though, is for the opportunity to read the wonderful quotes carved into the stone. We read everyone and then shared our favorite with the family.
The doors are always open, so you can visit anytime you like. Keep reading to find out what the kids favorite part about the chapel is. We love inspirational quotes, please share if you have one, from the Peace Chapel or otherwise.
Found within the International Peace Garden is a surprisingly awesome campground. It is able to accommodate campers of all types, from tents to large RV’s. Many sites have water and electric hook-ups. There are lots of features to love about this campground.
We stayed in a pull-thru site that had plenty of room for our 29′ travel trailer and tow vehicle. The site had lots of space and privacy, with trees on all sides. Many sites have a cement pad to park on. You will find a picnic table and fire ring at each site as well. There is also a dump station with two sides, which means less wait time.
This campground feels like one you would find at a state park, which I was really not expecting. One of the things you will really appreciate here is the free firewood (donations accepted), I know we did. There are two bath houses available with showers, which are clean and well kept, always a bonus.
Staying inside the International Peace Garden makes exploring this beautiful location so easy. From the camp you can take a bike ride along the bike paths or drive the scenic road through the garden. In the campground itself you can take a nice family bike ride or after dinner stroll. I strongly recommend staying here if you are going to visit the garden and of course, you should visit the International Peace Garden.
Take a Hike
Our family loves hiking and enjoying the outdoors. So when we found out that the International Peace Garden also had several nature trails to hike we knew we were going to have to hike on at least one of them.
We chose to hike the Lakeview Trail because it was on the Canadian side. Now we can say that we’ve hiked in Canada! It was about four miles round trip. This is a great length for our family so it worked out perfectly.
The trail loops around with views of several ponds. On the water we spotted many birds including, geese, loons, ducks, and several other birds as well. We also saw a beaver and a few beaver lodges. For the kids it’s not always about the animals we see, but sometimes the ones we don’t. There were tracks and other signs of many animals that use the trail too.
Most people come to see the formal garden. This means the trails are reserved for those of us that really like to explore. Which is why I think staying in the campground is such a good idea. It will give you a chance to see parts of the garden that others don’t explore. Another great reason why you should visit the International Peace Garden.
Other Features to Explore
There are several other places to explore within the Peace Garden. At the entrance to the garden is the original dedication cairn from 1932. Just inside the entrance to the right is a beautiful floral clock. This clock works and the design will change annually which give you a great reason to go back.
Another feature to explore is the pollinator and kitchen garden located just outside the Interpretive Center. We liked the different flowers found here that aren’t along the formal garden path. It also contains several varieties of fruits and vegetables. These help to supply the cafe.
The North American Game Warden Wildlife Museum can also be found in the International Peace Garden. We just missed our chance to visit by one day. It seems really interesting and gives us a great excuse for going back for another visit.
Some of the Kids’ Favorites
Our kids had a great time wandering through the garden, staying in the campground, and hiking the trail. However, there were a few things here that they really enjoyed.
During our stay we got lucky and there was a full moon. So we took the kids for a moonlit walk through the formal garden. This was another benefit of staying in the campground. The gardens are always open.
Behind the Peace Chapel is a marker defining the border between the two countries. Us parents could stand in America while the kids waved to us from Canada, the kids thought this was great. But even more fun than hopping back and forth between two countries is climbing on the giant hay rolls that also occupy the area.
View this post on Instagram
Inside the Interpretive Center they had a table with crayons and coloring pages. Somehow coloring is more fun when you do at a cool location. They really enjoyed finding all the fossils that are in the stone inside the Peace Chapel. Of course, the playground is pretty fun too.
Once you leave the Peace Garden there is a US Customs and Border Protection station to go through. The Dunseith Port of Entry is a very easy port to get through. Being that it is right outside the Peace Garden, they are very accommodating to visitors.
I had called ahead to make sure that we would not have any trouble getting through without passports. We also do not have our children’s birth certificates, which is recommended. The agent I spoke to told me it might take longer, but it wouldn’t be a problem. She was right.
The agent checked our drivers licenses, had us write down the kid’s names and birth dates, and then we pulled forward. It is standard procedure for them to look inside any trailer or RV coming through. An agent poked his head in to have a look. After that we were on our way. It was so much quicker and easier than I had imagined, even without passports.
Now You Know Why You Should Visit the International Peace Garden
Before deciding to visit North Dakota I knew of the existence of a peace garden somewhere on the border with Canada. What I didn’t know was that it is such a meaningful location. It really has so much significance and surprises me that more people aren’t visiting here every year.
You should visit the International Peace Garden at least once in your life. You can camp, hike, bike, and so many other things. If more people were to show support of this place, it could encourage other countries to create something similar. We all want peace and it can be found here in the International Peace Garden.
This is a partially sponsored post. The opinions and thoughts here are our own. We enjoy sharing honestly with you about the great places we have discovered.