13 Ways to Say Happy 50th Anniversary to North Dakota State Parks

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North Dakota wouldn’t be complete without its outdoor recreation activities that range from fishing and snowshoeing to boating and horseback riding. Traditionally, there have been no better places to pursue each of these than in any one of our 13 state parks. In fact, all combined, state parks are the largest visitor destination within North Dakota. This year, North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department marks its 50th anniversary with celebrations at each state park. Here are 13 ways you can get out and experience each unique one.

  1. Visit our oldest state park, Fort Abraham Lincoln. Established in 1907, Fort Lincoln was once an important infantry and cavalry post. It was from this fort that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry rode out on their ill-fated expedition against Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians at the Little Big Horn. Portions of the military post, including the Custer House, have been reconstructed. On-A-Slant Indian Village’s reconstructed earthlodges depict the lifestyle of the Mandan Indians, who occupied this site from about 1575-1781. Celebrate at Fort Lincoln on May 25. Learn more
  2. Hike our first National Recreation Trail at Lake Metigoshe State Park. Old Oak Trail was built in 1974 by the Youth Conservation Corps. This self-guided interpretive trail is approximately three miles in length and is fun to hike. Celebrate at Lake Metigoshe State Park on June 6. Learn more
  3. Sail North Dakota on one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the nation at Lake Sakakawea State Park. The lake has more shoreline than the state of California, so water activities like boating, swimming, fishing and ice fishing are abundant year-round. The park has a full-service marina, including convenience store, fishing guide services and boat and camper storage. Celebrate at Lake Sakakawea State Park on June 13. Learn more
  4. Camp like the famous explorers at Lewis and Clark State Park. On one of the upper bays of Lake Sakakawea, the rugged buttes of the North Dakota Badlands display a towering backdrop to one of our best recreation areas. Find excellent fishing (walleye, sauger and northern pike) and boating opportunities, as well as a swimming beach with washed sand. Celebrate at Lewis and Clark State Park on June 20. Learn more
  5. Fish one of the best fishing lakes in the nation at Grahams Island State Park. Devils Lake has been rated one of the top 5 fishing lakes in the U.S., and Grahams Island State Park sits on the lake’s west side. Celebrate at Grahams Island on June 27. Learn more
  6. Enter the Governor’s Cup Walleye Tournament at Fort Stevenson State Park. Known as the “Walleye Capital of North Dakota,” Fort Stevenson on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea has a modern campground, sleeping cabins, visitor center, interpretive trails and prairie dog town, as well as boat launching facilities. Celebrate at Fort Stevenson on June 28. Learn more
  7. See more than a dozen rare species and seldom seen birds at Icelandic State Park. Gunlogson Nature Preserve within the park is North Dakota's first dedicated state nature preserve. A link to earlier eras of different climatic conditions and to the vast bounty that greeted North Dakota's first settlers, it is an island of intact habitat within an extensively modified landscape, and a refuge in its cool, moist conditions. Celebrate Icelandic State Park on July 4. Learn more
  8. Boat or canoe along 7 miles of a free-flowing stretch of the Missouri River at Cross Ranch State Park. Rich in both cultural and natural history, the park is purposely left primitive to preserve the land's natural beauty. During the summer, park trails provide access to a 5,000-acre dedicated nature preserve where mixed grass prairie, river bottom forests and woody draws can be seen. Celebrate at Cross Ranch on July 11. Learn more
  9. Get out the binoculars for bird watching at Beaver Lake State Park. Species found in the park include grebes, pelicans, cormorants, whistling swans, hawks, herons, bitterns, sandpipers, gulls, terns, kingbirds, warblers and goldfinches. In the spring and fall, migratory birds pass through the park. Celebrate at Beaver Lake on August 2. Learn more
  10. Mountain bike the wooded trails of Turtle River State Park. The park is situated along the meandering Turtle River in a beautiful wooded valley. It was one of a number of parks built in North Dakota under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" programs intended to provide economic relief during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Celebrate at Turtle River on August 8. Learn more
  11. Celebrate North Dakota’s early homesteaders at Fort Ransom State Park. In the southeast part of the state, durum wheat, now one of North Dakota's major grain crops, was first grown in the United States in this area in 1882. The Bjone House, built in 1879 and just inside the park entrance, was the site of the first Lutheran Church services in the area. Celebrate at Fort Ransom on August 15. Learn more
  12. View the best of the Badlands at Little Missouri River State Park. Set in the Little Missouri Breaks Country, called "Mako Shika" or "where the land breaks" by the Sioux, the unusual land formations offer the state’s most awe-inspiring scenery. This more primitive park lets visitors really experience the Badlands as they have access to rustic cabins perched on rugged cliffs and the camping facilities cater to the horse enthusiasts. Learn more
  13. Canoe North Dakota’s only State Scenic River at Sully Creek State Park. Horseback riders, mountain bikers and hikers also have access to the 140-mile-long Maah Daah Hey Trail, which traverses the Little Missouri National Grassland. Learn more

The final 50th anniversary celebration will be held at Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area on September 26.

These are just a few of the opportunities to celebrate North Dakota’s state parks. For more information, go to NDtourism.com or phone 701-328-2525 or 800-435-5663.

Follow North Dakota Tourism on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TravelND or on Twitter at twitter.com/NorthDakota and get tips on what to see and do all year long.