On my first night here, I was devastated to find that most of the dining establishments closed around 9 pm, leaving only fast food restaurants with their poisonous food open..
Plan to eat early, perhaps even missing Lunch so that you would be hungry enough to eat at some ungodly early hour of the day
Winters can be deadly on the prairie. If the radio tells you to stay home then STAY HOME. Even a few inches of blowing snow can create a 'white out' blizzard and strong winds and low temperatures can create minus 100 wind chill.
This is an ugly picture - but you get the idea.
WARNING!!!The only thing to worry about when visiting Bismarck would have to be the snow if you are there during the winter. Driving can become very dangerous. Be very CAUTIOUS!!
As for summer: TONS of mosquitos.
Sub-zero temperatures, blizzards, snow, white-outs and icy roads can happen anytime between Sept 15 and May 15. Be sure to have a winter survival kit in your vehicle if traveling during this time of year! (See http://www.kx4.com/weat_winter.html for more info) Allow some leeway in your travel plans, because they do literally close the roads if the weather is bad enough.
During the winter blizzards can occur in North Dakota. When warnings are issued, it is important to heed these warnings. Do not travel on roadways during a blizzard. Do not travel outside without proper winter garments, coats, gloves, hats and so on. Blizzards create 'white-out' conditions, which mean that viability is poor or non-existent. People have been killed in these conditions, by driving off the road, or running into other vehicles they could not see.
When a blizzard warning is in effect, it is best to hunker down in your hotel or with your host for the duration of the storm. You may be able to get a plane flight out of Bismarck if you need to.
Call the North Dakota State Government's Travel Advisory line for more information. Out-of-State callers can use 1-866-696-3511. In-state callers can dial 511. (http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/maintenance/511.htm)
Tornados in North Dakota can form at anytime. However, they occur most often when the weather is hot and humid. It's sort of like the 'calm before the storm'. This doesn't mean these weather conditions always produce tornados, it just means that it is best to be extra vigilant during these weather conditions. Bismarck and most other communities have sirens that blow during a tornado warning.
If you are outside and cannot get into a building, it is best to find a depression or low area of ground to lay down, face-down.
The best thing to do is to seek shelter inside a sturdy building, away from windows.
Tornados have been spotted within the city of Bismarck (once by my own father), but they tend to be more common in the countryside. Nonetheless, if the sirens blow during your visit, seek shelter immediately.
Rattlesnakes are venomous snakes most common in the south-western part of the state, on the eastern side of the Missouri River. They can still be found in other areas of the state, however. If you are planning on hiking or camping in North Dakota, it is important to watch for these snakes and avoid them.
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, seek immediate medical attention!
More mountain lions are spotted in North Dakota each year. They generally stick to the countryside, but if you are hiking or camping, it is possible that you might spot one.
If you spot one, back away slowly and report the sighting. Do not run away or approach the predator. Do not otherwise provoke the mountain lion. Generally, if left alone they will leave people alone, but it is a wild animal and must be regarded with extreme caution.
Since there are not that many trees, the smallest amount of snow, if it is windy, can turn into a blizzard with zero visibility.
If they tell you not to leave because of a blizzard, listen. They know better. It is often impossible to see feet in front of the car and you can't tell if somebody stopped in front of you, or even figure out if you are still on the road.
This is the white-out condition that will get you in the ditch. Below is a very mild white-out since it was not even snowing, just very windy. They don't mind the snow, it's the wind they mind.
Case in point, here is the capitol building. I have no statistics to back up my claim, but I'm sure that this has been rated the ugliest capitol of any state capitol in America.
Very often, the winter temperature can drop to below 0 degF, even -20 degF (that's -18,-30 degC).
And it can be very windy. So take the windshield factor into account too.