The weather is getting warmer and spring is approaching fast, so it’s about time to start taking advantage of the great outdoors in North Dakota. There are plenty of awesome parks and trails you need to get to this summer and this list will tell you exactly where they are.
1. North County National Scenic Trail, Wahpeton to Lake Sakakawea
This trail begins all the way in New York state, travels across 4600 miles through 12 national scenic forests, and ends at Lake Sakakawea here in North Dakota. You can hop on the beginning of the ND section of the trail in Wahpeton and traverse through some beautiful prairies and grasslands.
2. Grahams Island State Park, Devils Lake
On the west banks of North Dakota's largest natural lake is Grahams Island State Park. It's known for having some of the best fishing in the state and should not be missed. Take an adventure on the water with your boat or canoe and see what you can reel in.
3. Sully Creek State Park, Medora
This breathtaking state park is just minutes away from Medora. It is very popular for its horse riding trails and also just the pure, natural beauty held within this place.
4. Cross Ranch State Park, Hensler
This state park is located about an hour north of Bismarck and provides great opportunities for hiking, fishing, and cross country skiing in the winter. It is right along the mighty Missouri River. The park's trails cover 5000 acres of preserved grasslands and forests.
5. Little Missouri State Park, Killdeer
If you like horseback riding, this is definitely one of the best state parks to do it in. Hiking and biking are also popular here. This beautiful state park has what are known as "Mako Shika," which is Sioux for "where the land breaks," referring to the many canyons and cuts into the land made by the river over thousands of years.
6. Turtle River State Park, Grand Forks
Turtle River State Park is right on the river for which it is named. It's a great place for spending the day fishing and then camping out for the night. Not your style? You can hike, ski, or bike the trails, too - or simply find a nice spot along the river for a relaxing picnic.
7. Fort Ransom State Park, Ft. Ransom
Nestled within the Sheyenne River Valley and among beautiful forests is Fort Ransom State Park. If you're looking for a tranquil, beautiful, and picturesque place to explore, then this is it, hands down. You can also kayak or canoe on the larger parts of the river and enjoy the nature around you. This is a great place to escape from it all.
8. Missouri River, Bismarck
This isn't a state park or trail but I felt it should be included. The Missouri River offers so many things to do, see, and explore. You can boat, kayak, water ski, swim, take a riverboat cruise, or traverse the nature along the banks. It's the perfect place for your summer adventure!
9. Fort Stevenson State Park, Garrison
This state park lies on the banks of Lake Sakakawea. It is known as the walleye capitol of North Dakota, so if you like to fish, you'll like it here. It's also great for those of you who like to watch nature and animals in their natural habitats - such as the bison shown roaming the park on this picture taken there. The best way to enjoy the lake is probably through this state park, so get out there!
10. Cannonball River, Mott
Another honorable river mention - this time the Cannonball River. This river has great fishing opportunities, especially for northern pike or walleye. If you want a relaxing fishing adventure on a river among some beautiful rolling prairie hills, this is it. You could also try to find some of the smooth, cannonball-shaped rocks that the river was named for. The black flecks on the picture aren't smudges. Look closely - they are actually birds! This river provides a great opportunity to see and do all of these things and more.
What are you waiting for? Go out there and have an adventure, and share your experiences with us if you go or have already been to any of these places.