International Peace Garden – More Than Peace Grows Here

Notice: This post is being written during the COVID-19 pandemic and at this time, the park is closed to visitors. Please stay safe and follow your state or country’s guidelines for travel in your region. More information on the park’s current status can be found here.

Dunseith, North Dakota.

I’ve lived and worked in North Dakota since 1978. One item that has been on my bucket list for this state is the International Peace Garden. Last September, I had occasion to visit the garden to consider it as a location for a joint cadet get-together between North Dakota Civil Air Patrol and Manitoba Cadet Air League. The garden has summer hours for facilities, usually from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but the garden itself is open much of the year… except for now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have the opportunity to visit the garden, near central North Dakota on the Canadian Border, take the side trip. In the meantime, I feature a gallery of images captured during my visit there the week after Labor Day. The park is a long, thin strip of land that straddles the US-Canada border. That line that splits the opening image left and right is the border itself. To take this photo, I was standing with my left foot in the United States and my right foot in Canada.

The park is in what many countries would call their “no-mans land”. To enter the park, you must leave the United States or Canada, but you don’t have to enter the other country. If you cross through to the garden, be sure you have appropriate identification with you as you are leaving your home country and must return via the appropriate Customs port which is right there at the garden. A Passport or Nexus Card is the preferred documentation, though a driver’s license and Birth Certificate is acceptable. Minors will need their birth certificate. Don’t take this paragraph as fact, though. In these times, requirements may change. On the Peace Garden Website here, there is a section under the Discover drop-down called “Prepare for your visit.” That page provides current customs information for both countries and contact numbers for the appropriate authorities.

There is a beautifully designed interpretive center that is open in season, and in addition to the gardens, there is a chapel, a historic lodge, camping and picnic areas, and a network of hiking and biking trails that connect the 2,400 acres of wilderness prairie, lakes, and ponds.

Most people come to visit the gardens themselves. Even though it was after Labor Day and all of the facilities were closed, the garden was completely accessible for us to appreciate the autumn colors that were in view.

Near one of the buildings on the Canadian side, a beautiful autumn display welcomed us. This building was open and we wandered through. Though we spent as much time “in Canada” as we did “in the United States” at the park, we never went through Canadian Customs. We were in the “no-mans land” for the entire visit. When it came time to leave the park, we passed again through U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facilities where our credentials were checked and we were allowed to enter the United States again.

I am remiss in not visiting this beautiful garden while my children were home with us. It’s a bit of a drive from Fargo, a 270 mile (435 km) drive across North Dakota would be required. As my colleague and I were on official Civil Air Patrol (CAP) business, we flew there in one of our CAP aircraft, landed at the nearby airport, and walked over to U.S. Customs to ensure they knew we were entering the gardens. It was there we inquired about the potential for bringing U.S. and Canadian cadets (generally 12-18 years of age) into the park as a group. It is possible to walk directly into the gardens from the small Dunseith Airport, but we had our questions to ask and wanted to be sure they were aware of our credentials and accepted them prior to entering the park. Another goal was to simply view the facility with an eye toward having our groups gather for Veterans Day/Armistice Day ceremonies in some future time. We knew this would have to be done when the facilities are closed for the season, and we wanted to be sure we knew exactly what that would mean for us.

Of course, I must include a photo of me standing one foot in the United States and the other in Canada.  I present for your review a gallery of images I captured that afternoon as we walked through the gardens. As usual, your browser may allow you to click on an image to enlarge it and scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner

7 thoughts on “International Peace Garden – More Than Peace Grows Here

  1. I grew up in Brandon and then Winnipeg, MB. As a kid I went to basketball camp in the International Peace Gardens camp, and visited several times with my family. I haven’t been in years though. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Maggie

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