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Spend some time in nature and enjoying the great outdoors at several parks and recreation sites around North Dakota. You’ll find a handful of state parks in the region that are perfect for hiking, biking, picnicking, and lakeside activities during the summer months. When you’re heading to North Dakota during the colder months, look forward to a few days of snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sleigh rides. There’s something for all recreational enthusiasts year-round in the plains of North Dakota.
One of the most scenic parks to visit is Cross Ranch State Park. It runs along the Missouri River and is home to pristine forests and untouched prairie land. Learn about history at the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, home to the Custer House and famous On-A-Slant Village. You can also enjoy swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing and beach activities around Lake Sakakawea at Lewis & Clark State Park.
Left in its primitive state to retain all the natural beauty, Cross Ranch State Park sprawls along seven miles of undeveloped Missouri River shoreline. Interactive information is available at the River Peoples Visitor Center, boat ramps, and canoe rentals are available. Cross Ranch offers an extensive trail system for access to prairie, forests, plus cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The park is about 30 miles northwest of Bismarck, North Dakota, and accessible via the four-lane U.S. 83, or the sometimes-gravel – but more direct – Highway 1806.
Established in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt as Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Fort Abraham is set in central North Dakota – seven miles south of Mandan and across the Missouri River from Bismarck. The 1,006-acre Fort Abraham hosts the On-A-Slant Indian Village, and the famed Custer House.
This North Dakota state park features hourly tours of the Custer House and On-A-Slant Village. Visitors may also stroll through the cavalry barracks, stables, and blockhouses, explore onsite museums, or catch a dramatization. Hiking, fishing, picnicking, and horseback riding are also available at Fort Abraham.
Located near Garrison in central North Dakota, Fort Stevenson State Park is about 45 miles south of Minot via U.S. 83 and Highway 37 (look for the twin water towers marked “hot” and “cold"). The park (as well as Garrison) bills itself as the Walleye Capital of North Dakota.
With its location on Lake Sakakawea, the Governor’s Cup Walleye Fishing Derby and a slew of other fishing tournaments take place here. It also features a marina. Of course, the park is named after the original Fort Stevenson, which was established here in 1867 and was abandoned sixteen years later. A replica of the guardhouse offers interpretive exhibits, including on Lewis & Clark’s multiple campsites in the area.
The relatively new Fort Stevenson State Park Arboretum covers 438 acres and features over 50 native and non-native trees, plants, grasses, wildflowers, and more.
Located along the Missouri River, about 20 miles east of Williston along Highway 1804 (named for one of the years of Lewis & Clark’s exploration trips), you’ll find this 490-acre park.
There are plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing – and knowing North Dakota weather, this could possibly all happen in a single day.
In case you think North Dakota has no open water, the Missouri River has widened to become Lake Sakakawea at this point and there’s a marina; in case you think North Dakota has no beaches, a sandy beach and great swimming await; in case you think you’re far from technology, the park has wireless Internet.