North Dakota & South Dakota
There’s really nothing quite like seeing your first field of blooming sunflowers. It’s inspirational and exhilarating. But these fields of happiness aren’t that easy to catch in their prime, which actually makes them more special. Full bloom is relatively short—about a week to 10 days—and no two fields are on the same schedule. But don’t fret: pass by a patch of past-their-prime drooping heads and you’ll likely see a vibrant yellow planting just down the road. These days, a lot of states grow sunflowers, particularly in northern climes with plenty of summer light. The Dakotas are two of the best places to find them. I started my sunflower search on the Prairie Californian. The author of this website is a North Dakota transplant and she has great viewing tips, including a sunflower production map. It shows where sunflower farms are concentrated, a great starting point when making summer travel plans.
Bismarck and Pierre are state capitals and have good services. In particular, downtown Bismarck has many shops and solid restaurant choices.
Route & Map
Heading south from Bismarck to Pierre and then west to Philip, this drive follows four highways: ND/SD 1806, SD 20, US 83, US 14.
It's 5½ hours without stopping so plan on at least 6.
Best Time to Visit
The sunflower bloom runs early to mid-August to early September.
Keep in Mind
Farmers are generally fine with picture-taking but don’t trespass or pick the flowers! (This happens more than you think.)
Check out Prairie Californian for tips on sunflower viewing, maps and North Dakota-style recipes.