US-83 begins winding its way from the Canadian border at the small United States Port of Entry (daily 8am-9pm) seven miles north of Westhope (pop. 408). Westhope, named by an optimistic Great Northern Railway official, is a good example of North Dakota’s small agrarian towns. There are cafés, gas stations, a sparse two-block-long downtown, and that’s about it.
South of Westhope about six miles, US-83 zigzags west along Hwy-5 for about 15 miles before sharply banking south. The next 37 miles to Minot are a straight shot south, passing nothing save a sweeping wildlife refuge and a lonely Domino’s Pizza, all by itself beneath the occasional B-52s thundering overhead to and from Minot Air Force Base, one of the primary bases for the U.S. military’s tactical and strategic nuclear forces. Along with bombers and fighter planes, Minot AFB also controls hundreds of nuclear-tipped Minuteman III ICBM missiles, which are housed in high-security underground silos that look like high-security parking lots amid the wheat fields all over the northern Great Plains.