Havana, North Dakota

Photo: Coteau des Prairies Lodge
Photo: Coteau des Prairies Lodge

It looks cold outside. Very cold. You doubt the temperature will rise above freezing at all today. You slip out of bed, dash across your bedroom, and pull the white shade open. More snow fell overnight, and it sparkles as the sun bounces off it. You jump back into bed and curl up under the thick quilt. You want to stay warm and cozy for just a few more minutes.

You’ve explored this part of the country, the Upper Midwest, and its breathtaking national parks before, but always during the summer. In need of a true escape, you returned in the winter. Minnesota was blanketed in snow when you arrived. The drifts only got higher as you drove through South Dakota. By the time you crossed the border into North Dakota, you wondered how spring, much less summer, would ever arrive.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t stunning. You followed the Coteau des Prairies, a glacial plateau that rises from the flatlands, into Havana. A rustic lodge, the Coteau des Prairies Lodge, looked like a lighthouse guiding you through the darkness. A wraparound deck led to the lodge’s great room, which is made of North Dakota pine. The open space has thick wooden beams and a soaring ceiling. While the smell of a hearty cooking meal escaped from the modern kitchen. It didn’t take long for you to warm up.

Now, despite the urge to stay in bed, it’s time to get up and make your way outside. After a quick breakfast, start layering up with a sweater, a scarf, heavy boots, and a thick jacket. Go for a morning hike to see the cattle in their pens and nearby wind farms and frozen glacial lakes. Visit Breker Farm to tour the barn, meet the cows, and learn about the crops that will be planted when the snow melts. Board a horse-drawn sleigh to see the view of the prairie from high on the plateau. Then make your way to one of the lookout points for one of the most amazing sunsets you will ever see. By this point, the dropping temperatures barely affect you.

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