13 North Dakota State Parks

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North Dakota is home to some stunning natural landscapes. If you enjoy being outdoors, camping, hiking, fishing and exploring nature, then you will love these 13 North Dakota State Parks. North Dakota is an excellent place to explore, from the Badlands to the open plains and an abundance of shimmering lakes.

Not only do these state parks in North Dakota provide beautiful natural surroundings for relaxing and exploring, but they also are where stories of local and national history unfold. Both North Dakota’s national and state parks are well worth a visit, and you should consider adding a few of them to your North Dakota bucket list.

North Dakota State Parks

20 State Parks In North Dakota 

1- Fort Ransom State Park

a covered wagon in fort ransom
A covered wagon in Fort Ransom State Park in North Dakota.

Fort Ransom State Park is nestled in the forested Sheyenne River Valley in the state’s southeast corner.

This state park is named after the 1860s military Fort Ransom.

The river that runs through the park provides abundant outdoor opportunities, including canoeing, fishing, and many bird species.

This state park also has a short section of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

One of the best things about Fort Ransom State Park is the 20 miles of trails that meander in a series of loops around the park, which you can walk, horse ride, bike or cross-country ski and snowshoe in winter.

Some of the best trails within this state park include the Redetzke Ridge Trail (2.84 miles), the North Fork Trail (1.64 miles) and the Pederson Hills Trail (1.36 miles).

As winter comes and the snow falls, this park becomes a haven for cross-country skiers.

There are even snowmobile trails to explore, a fun way to see the park.

The Fort Ransom State Park is at 5981 Walt Hjelle Parkway, Fort Ransom, ND 58033.

Aerial view of Fort Ransom State Park river with blue sky
Fort Ransom State Park in North Dakota has wide open spaces.

2- Turtle River State Park

Turtle River State Park is a beautiful state park east of North Dakota, close to the Minnesota border.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established the park during the 1930s under the New Deal.

The park is centred around the Turtle River and surrounded by a densely wooded valley.

The meandering river is popular among fly fishers as it’s North Dakota’s only stream with tons of rainbow trout.

The park is excellent for camping, picnicking, hiking and mountain biking.

Winter is popular for cross-country skiing and sledding because the park is home to 7.5 miles (12 km) of groomed trails perfect for winter activities.

The Turtle River State Park is home to an abundance of wildlife that makes any visit extra exciting.

One of the best places to try and spot wildlife is along the Timber Loop a 1.16-mile trail that heads through the woods.

The Turtle River State Park is at 3084 Park Ave NE, Arvilla, ND 58214.

3- Icelandic State Park

Icelandic State Park is on the shores of Lake Renwick in the northeast of North Dakota.

This state park covers an area of 912 acres (369 ha) of beautiful woodland that’s a sanctuary for plants, wildlife, and birds.

The park was first established in 1964 and allows visitors to explore the outdoors and learn about the early settlers in North Dakota.

There are several historic buildings within the park, including Akra Community Hall and Hallson Church.

There is also the Pioneer Heritage Centre within the state park, where you can explore several exhibits about North Dakota’s homesteading years.

Icelandic State Park also has three miles of trail systems within Gunlogson Nature Preserve which is adjacent to the park.

The Icelandic State Park is at 13571 ND-5, Cavalier, ND 58220.

4- Graham Island State Park at Devil’s Lake

Graham Island State Park is around 175 miles (71 ha) northeast of North Dakota’s capital Bismarck.

Devil’s Lake is popular in North Dakota, particularly in summer.

This state park is heavily wooded and a bit of a hidden gem in terms of exploring Devil’s Lake.

If you are visiting during summer and want to find somewhere to go camping, Graham Island State Park is an excellent spot.

Campsites are set in the shade to escape the hot summer sun, but there are also non-seasonal campgrounds to enjoy year-round.

If you enjoy fishing, then you will love this state park.

Devil’s Lake is home to some world-class fishing, and numerous regional and national fishing competitions are held at the lake each year.

Graham Island State Park is fully geared up for those wanting to fish. There’s a bait shop, boat ramps, and a fish cleaning station.

Perhaps the best way to explore this state park is to head out on the many trails.

The Sivert Thompson Loop is a 1.6-mile trail that meanders through ash and oak woodland.

In winter, you can bring your cross-country skis and head out on the Cross-country Ski Trail, which is 3 miles long.

Graham Island State Park at Devil’s Lake is at 152 S Duncan Rd, Devils Lake, ND 58301.

5- Beaver Lake State Park

Another of North Dakota’s state parks centred around a lake is Beaver Lake State Park in southern North Dakota, 88 miles (141 km) from the state capital Bismarck.

Beaver Lake State Park is the perfect escape from city life, where you’ll feel instantly relaxed upon setting foot in this North Dakota State Park.

The lake is surrounded by rolling prairies and people head to Beaver Lake State Park mostly for the trails.

There are 5.14 miles (8.3 km) of trails that connect different walks in a series of loops perfect for hiking or biking.

Take the Moraine Loop Trail for a longer walk, which is 2.28 miles (3.7 km).

Beaver Lake State Park is at 3850 70th St SE, Wishek, ND 58495.

6- Lake Metigoshe State Park

This North Dakota state park has an impressive lake system shared with Manitoba along the Canadian border.

Lake Metigoshe State Park is a popular spot for holidaymakers in North Dakota. Situated within the Turtle Mountains, there are a number of small lakes within the park.

Whether you fancy kayaking, canoeing, or hiking, there are endless opportunities for outdoor fun.

There are more than 12 miles (19 km) of hiking trails that both walkers and mountain bikers can enjoy.

As you explore the trails you can discover the park’s unique wetland and woodland habitat.

If you are particularly into birding, you can pick up a bird checklist at the park office.

If you have kids who want to learn more about the nature surrounding them, check out the Lake Metigoshe Outdoor Learning Center for hands-on experiences to connect with nature and learn about local history.

Lake Metigoshe State Park is at 2514 2nd St E, Bottineau, ND 58318.

7- Fort Stevenson State Park

Fort Stevenson State Park is on one of Lake Sakakawea’s peninsulas, four miles south of Garrison.

One of the fun activities at Fort Stevenson is hitting the water.

There are two marinas, Garrison Bay, and de Trobriand that you can use to launch your boats, kayaks or canoes. They also offer food, fuel and easy access to the lake.

While at the park, check out the Guardhouse Museum to learn about Fort Stevenson when it guarded supply lines in the Dakota Territory.

Inside are many artifacts and stories from back in the day.

If you are travelling to Fort Stevenson State Park with kids, definitely bring your kite because of its location on the bluffs. It’s usually windy and perfect for flying a kite.

Fort Stevenson State Park is at 1252A 41st Ave NW, Garrison, ND 58540.

8- Lake Sakakawea State Park

The biggest lake in North Dakota is Lake Sakakawea, and this state park is centred around this body of water.

Lake Sakakawea is a reservoir on the Missouri River and boasts the title of the third largest man-made reservoir in the USA.

Within the state park, there’s a beach for swimming, you can camp, explore hiking trails and head out onto the lake.

The windy conditions on Lake Sakakawea are ideal for windsurfing and sail boating.

Other lake sports include fishing for walleye, chinook salmon and northern pike.

The state park has a full-service marina, a store and boat ramps for deep water access.

If fishing’s not your thing then explore the local trails.

Lake Sakakawea State Park is the terminus of the North Country National Scenic Trail which starts in Vermont and travels 4,600 miles to Lake Sakakawea State Park.

Hike the NCT for 1.78 miles and discover the beautiful shortgrass prairie.

Lake Sakakawea State Park is at Pick City, ND 58545.

9- Cross Ranch State Park

Cross Ranch State Park stretches along seven miles (11 km) of the Missouri River, and the state park is around nine miles (14.5 km) from the city of Washburn.

Cross Ranch State Park is perfect for walking because of the 17 miles (27 km) of trails.

Whether you hit the trails in summer on cross-country skis in winter, they provide excellent views of the Missouri River and the surrounding forest.

While discovering the trails, you can access the 5,000-acre (2023 ha) nature preserves and the prairie grassland.

If you are lucky, you might also see some bison roaming around.

To make a weekend of it, there are cabins and yurts to stay in and camping facilities.

Cross Ranch State Park is at 1403 River Rd, Center, ND 58530.

10- Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

historic house in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in North Dakota is perfect for those who love history.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is North Dakota’s oldest state park, established in 1907.

Many choose to first head to the Visitor Centre Museum, where you can learn about the area’s unique history and discover many artifacts.

Here you can learn about the Mandan Native Americans who lived in earth lodges while looking deeper into Fort Abraham Lincoln and Fort McKeen.

There are 19 miles (30.5 km) of trails around Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, including the Scouts Trail System, which has 8.79 miles (14 km) of fantastic scenery.

For something a little shorter, hit the Little Soldier Loop Trail (1.76 miles), which starts at the Valley picnic shelter and later joins the Young Hawk Interpretive Trail.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is at 4480 Fort Lincoln Rd, Mandan, ND 58554.

11- Sully Creek State Park

The Sully Creek State Park is lovely, with an impressive meandering lake and imposing awe-inspiring cliff faces.

If you are visiting North Dakota’s only big-name capital letter national park, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, then you should combine it with a visit to Sully Creek State Park and the historic town of Medora.

This state park is less than a 10-minute drive from Medora.

Canoeing and kayaking start on the Little Missouri River in early spring and continue right through summer.

Viewing this state park from the river is a unique experience and an excellent way to see the badlands.

Hiking, biking and horse riding are popular activities in the park. There is also the 144-mile (232 km) Maah Daah Hey Trail that you can access within the park.

Sully Creek State Park is at 1465 36th St, Medora, ND 58645.

12- Little Missouri State Park

The Little Missouri State Park is in western North Dakota. This part of the state provides visitors with an effortless oasis.

This is a superb state park for hiking, as 45 miles (73 km) of trails run through North Dakota’s Badlands.

Camping is highly recommended in this park to be able to connect to nature and disconnect from everyday life.

Little Missouri State Park has three primitive campsites and 28 modern electricity-sourced campsites.

Whichever you choose to stay at, you will have a wonderful time exploring this remote state park.

Little Missouri State Park is at 910 103rd Ave NW, Killdeer, ND 58640.

13- Lewis and Clark State Park

This state park is named after Captain Meriwether Lewis and his Second Lieutenant William Clark, who led the Corps of Discovery Expedition, also known as the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Thomas Jefferson commissioned this Corps of Discovery after the Louisiana Purchase to discover the newly acquired territories.

The Lewis and Clark State Park on the upper bay of Lake Sakakawea is defined by the rugged backdrop of the North Dakota Badlands.

When visiting the park, you should head first to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, which has artifacts and art collections all telling the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Popular activities in the park include fishing, particularly for walleye, sauger and northern pike.

Hiking is fun through the many trails that traverse the grasslands and mixed grass prairies.

There are also opportunities to discover various flora like bluebells, wild onions, and white aster.

Lewis and Clark State Park is at 4904 119th Rd NW, Epping, ND 58843. 

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!