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Enchanted Castle.
Enchanted Castle.

Enchanted Castle

Field review by the editors.

Regent, North Dakota

Gary Greff, a teacher by profession, was inspired to build the Enchanted Highway in part to save the town of Regent, and by extension, its high school, where he was a member of the Class of 1967.

The tavern.
The tavern.

It didn't work; the school closed.

Rather than be disheartened, Gary saw it as an opportunity. Visitors traveling down the Enchanted Highway (perhaps stopping at all his monumental sculptures), he reasoned, would need a place to stay, "and when you think of something enchanted," said Gary, "you think of a castle." So he bought the empty building and, after two years of hard work, reopened it on May 7, 2012, as the Enchanted Castle hotel, steakhouse, and tavern. In Regent, it's the only hotel, and effectively the only restaurant.

The gym.
The gym.

"When I graduated," said Gary, the multi-tasking artist/hotelier, as he served us steak and beer, "I never ever thought that I'd come back to this place and put a bar in it."

The Excalibur Steakhouse.
The Excalibur Steakhouse.

Gary and his brother, novices at castle construction, built this one by studying photographs of real and fantasy medieval strongholds.

Outside, pennants flutter from the crenelated battlements and visitors enter across a drawbridge spanning a dry moat. Indoors, knight statues in armor stand at the check-in desk, and heraldic shields hang from the tavern wall.

Nineteen of the school's former classrooms have been renovated into hotel rooms with medieval flourishes. According to Gary, family members persuaded him to design more spacious suites to appeal to tourists, families, fish and game sportsmen, outfitted with kitchens, breakfast counters, sitting areas and other amenities.

Enchanted Castle guest room.

On our 2022 foray through the region, the Enchanted Castle was the best place to slumber after a long road trip day (and a sumptuous repast in the Excalibur Steakhouse).

There's something magical about the blend of an old high school, a faux fiefdom, and a roadside attraction.

Gary left the gymnasium untouched -- including its painted sports mascot, the dagger-toothed Wildfire -- as a way to keep the old school spirit alive and preserve a piece of the town's history.

A self-admitted perfectionist, Gary does much of the work around the Castle himself. It's difficult for him to find employees willing to match his level of dedication. "I didn't sink my life into this to have somebody say, 'Oh, well. Don't worry. That's just the way it goes.' And I say, 'No it ain't. I do worry.'" The time and effort needed to keep the Castle running has also cut into Gary's ability to create sculptures for the Enchanted Highway. "It's been... ai-yi-yi!" Gary said in mock exasperation. "I haven't found anybody that I can say, 'You take over. I'm just gonna go out and weld.'"

Enchanted Castle.

Yet, despite the workload, Gary remains an optimist, confident that that the challenges of the Castle can be surmounted if he just takes them one at a time -- even if his confidence has been tempered over the years with some world-weary humor. "I got 20 people saying, 'When I win the lottery, I'm gonna to help you out.'" Gary said. "I'm not holding my breath on that one."

Outside the entrance into the steakhouse, the Excalibur sword -- sticking upright out of a fake boulder -- is a perfect Enchanted Hotel photo opportunity. And if anyone can pull the sword out of the stone that is Regent, North Dakota, it's Gary Greff.

Also see: Enchanted Highway

Enchanted Castle

Address:
607 Main St., Regent, ND
Directions:
I-94 exit 72 (Gladstone). Turn south, then drive 32.5 miles. At the south end of Regent, on the right.
Phone:
701-563-4858
Admission:
Rooms $99.
RA Rates:
The Best
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Sir Albert and the DragonSir Albert and the Dragon, Regent, ND - < 1 mi.
Enchanted Highway Gift ShopEnchanted Highway Gift Shop, Regent, ND - < 1 mi.
Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again: Enchanted HighwayTeddy Roosevelt Rides Again: Enchanted Highway, Regent, ND - 2 mi.
In the region:
Grasshoppers in the Field: Enchanted Highway, Regent, ND - 17 mi.

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