Apr 23 2010

Medicine Wheel Park in Valley City, North Dakota

One of the most interesting stops on our North Dakota trip last year was in Valley City at Medicine Wheel Park.  Now, if your kids are looking for slides and swings, this isn’t the place for you.  If, however, you need a place to stretch your legs and see something new, pull off I-94 and check it out.

Medicine Wheel Park was constructed, beginning in 1992, by a university professor and his students.  The park is named after the Medicine Wheel they built, which is a calendar made out of rocks, similar to those made by Native Americans years ago.

Medicine Wheel

Indian burial mounds are also located in the park.

Another type of calendar found in Medicine Wheel Park is the Meridian Calendar.  It looks like a simple utility pole, but its shadow cast on a line of rocks can indicate the time of day and the season.  We visited just past noon, about 3 weeks before the beginning of summer, and this is where the shadow was cast.

Meridian Calendar

My kids’ favorite, however, was the series of rocks depicting the planets.

Kids like the planet rocks

Seemingly scattered throughout the park, the rocks’ sizes are relative to the sizes of the planets, and their position is based on the sun (the center of the medicine wheel).  Following a path to a scenic overlook, we found most of the planets, but poor little Pluto (which has lost its status as planet anyway) is located down the hill and across a parking lot.


Hikers may already know that the North Country National Scenic Trail runs through Medicine Wheel Park.  The park’s parking lot is large, offering ample space for cars and recreational vehicles.  Picnic tables are also available.

Medicine Wheel Park is nearly across the street from the Valley City Winter Shows building (Ah, that brings back memories!) and is a quick stop off North Dakota‘s I-94 if you’re looking for a glimpse into ancient cultures or just a scenic walk.

Valley City and Hi-Line Bridge

You probably know this already, but I’m participating in a contest at Best Kids Apps, a blog about iPhone apps for kids, for a chance to win an iPad.

More about Valley City, North Dakota, at Uptake.

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