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North Dakota, known for its sweeping landscapes and rich history, offers numerous experiences through its state parks. Each park presents a unique blend of natural beauty, wildlife, and outdoor recreation, making it the perfect destination for adventurers, nature lovers, and those who need a little peace and quiet.

From lakeside retreats to rugged badlands, these parks offer a diverse range of ecosystems waiting to be explored. We’re taking a look at each of the major state parks in North Dakota and highlighting the best activities they have to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or planning your first outdoor adventure, North Dakota’s state parks promise an unforgettable experience.

15. Cross Ranch State Park

Cross Ranch State Park(image via Instagram)

Cross Ranch State Park offers a wide variety of activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. With nearly 17 miles of trails, the park provides ample opportunities for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the stunning natural surroundings. For those who prefer water activities, the park is located along some of the last free-flowing and undeveloped stretches of the Missouri River, making it an excellent spot for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. 

Additionally, the park offers unique overnight experiences with yurt rentals. Bird watching is another popular activity in the park, thanks to its diverse avian population. Lastly, the park’s location near Fort Mandan State Recreation Area and Washburn provides additional exploration opportunities.

14. Pembina Gorge State Park

Pembina Gorge State Park(image via Flickr)

Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area in North Dakota is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. It spans over 2,800 acres of public land and boasts a diverse range of activities that cater to all kinds of adventure seekers.

During the warmer months, visitors can take advantage of the park’s extensive network of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trails wind through the gorgeous Pembina Gorge, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The gorge itself is a geological wonder, as it is the longest unaltered river valley in the state. The Pembina River flows through the park, providing excellent opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. The nearby Lake Renwick is a favorite spot among anglers, with northern pike, walleye, and other game fish populating its waters.

When winter arrives, the park transforms into a snowy playground. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular activities, with well-groomed trails crisscrossing the park. Additionally, the trails at the gorge are open to ATVs and dirt bikes, catering to those who prefer motorized adventures.

13. Sully Creek State Park

Sully Creek State Park

Sully Creek State Park, located in the heart of the North Dakota Badlands, offers a multitude of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. One of the park’s most popular attractions is the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail, where visitors can enjoy horseback riding, hiking, and biking. The trail provides sweeping views of the rugged badlands terrain and is accessible directly from the park.

For those who prefer water activities, Sully Creek State Park also offers opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. The park’s proximity to the historic town of Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park provides additional exploration opportunities.

Another unique feature of this park is the golf course, Bully Pulpit, where visitors can tee off amid the stunning badland vistas. Nearby attractions also include the Painted Canyon Overlook and Nature Trail, offering more opportunities for scenic walks and wildlife viewing. In essence, Sully Creek State Park caters to a wide range of interests, making it a great destination in North Dakota.

12. Turtle River State Park

Turtle River State Park

Turtle River State Park, nestled in a beautiful wooded valley in North Dakota, offers a host of recreational activities throughout the year. One of the most popular activities in the park is fishing, thanks to the meandering Turtle River that flows through it. The park also features 125 modern and primitive campsites for those who love the outdoors.

For adventure seekers, the park offers trails for hiking and mountain biking. These trails give visitors the opportunity to explore the park’s lush landscape and spot local wildlife. During winter, these trails are transformed into routes for cross-country skiing and fat-tire biking. Sledding is another fun-filled winter activity for families to enjoy at the park.

The park also hosts special events, such as guided hikes with popcorn and hot cocoa at the Woodland Lodge. Whether it’s camping under the stars, reeling in a big catch, or exploring the park’s scenic trails, there’s something for everyone at Turtle River State Park.

11. Little Missouri State Park

Little Missouri State Park(image via Instagram)

Little Missouri State Park, located in the picturesque North Dakota Badlands, is renowned for its over 45 miles of trails that offer breathtaking views of the waterways and rugged terrain. These trails are best explored on foot or horseback, with the park being one of the most popular places in the state for horseback riding.

Comfortable cabins are available for those wishing to extend their stay and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the park. Nearby attractions include the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit), Lake Sakakawea, and Killdeer Mountains, providing more opportunities for exploration.

10. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in North Dakota offers a rich blend of history and outdoor adventure. One of the main attractions is the opportunity to explore history, particularly through the reconstructed home of General George Custer. The central barracks, granary, commissary, and stable have also been reconstructed, offering visitors a glimpse into the past.

The Earthlodge, a traditional dwelling of the Mandan Indians, is another must-see attraction. Visitors can also tour the blockhouses, which provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The Visitor Center Museum houses an array of artifacts that provide insight into the area’s culture and history.

For those who love the outdoors, the park offers numerous activities like camping, hiking, and biking. There are modern campgrounds, rental cabins, and even tipis for an immersive experience.

9. Fort Ransom State Park

Fort Ransom State Park

Fort Ransom State Park, located at the end of the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway in North Dakota, has a plethora of activities to offer. During the summer, horseback riding and camping are some favorite activities. The park is home to a farmstead that adds a unique touch to the camping experience.

The park also offers spectacular views of central North Dakota’s prairie grasslands and the Sheyenne River Valley. Hiking the trails is highly recommended for those who wish to fully immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty. In winter, cross-country skiing becomes a popular sport.

One of the park’s notable landmarks is the Sunne Farm, a structure that dates back a century and represents early settler life. Lastly, the community of Fort Ransom is conveniently located nearby, offering additional local attractions.

8. Icelandic State Park

Icelandic State Park(image via Instagram)

Icelandic State Park offers a multitude of recreational activities for nature enthusiasts. The park is situated on the north shore of Lake Renwick, making boating and swimming popular activities. Fishing for northern pike and other game fish is also a favored pastime for many visitors.

For those who prefer land-based activities, the park has several hiking trails to explore. There’s also a chance for some beach fun, perfect for those warm summer days. In addition, mountain biking is available for those seeking a bit more adventure.

The park is also home to a museum, offering visitors a glimpse into the area’s history. In October, the park organizes a kids’ hike event, where children can collect clues on the trails as a part of an engaging activity. In essence, Icelandic State Park is an ideal destination for all ages.

7. Beaver Lake State Park

Beaver Lake State Park(image via stevegeer/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Beaver Lake State Park has a variety of recreational activities on offer. One of the primary attractions is camping, with modern comfort stations complete with showers for a comfortable stay. The park also offers ample opportunities for boating and canoeing, with the serene Beaver Lake providing a picturesque backdrop.

Fishing enthusiasts can look forward to a rewarding experience, with ice fishing being a popular activity during the winter months. Birdwatchers will be delighted at the opportunity to spot a variety of waterbirds in their natural habitat. For those who enjoy physical activity, the park boasts miles of hiking and biking trails, perfect for adventurers of all levels.

Additional amenities include picnic shelters and a playground, making it an ideal location for family outings. The park also runs a ranger program for kids on Saturdays, adding an educational twist to their visit. Whether you’re seeking tranquility or adventure, Beaver Lake State Park is a perfect summer spot that combines natural beauty with a plethora of outdoor activities.

6. Fort Stevenson State Park

Fort Stevenson State Park(image via Instagram)

Fort Stevenson State Park offers plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The park is home to two marinas, Garrison Bay and de Trobriand, which are ideal for boating and fishing. Camping is another popular activity, with the park offering well-maintained campgrounds and cabins.

The park’s Guardhouse Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the area’s historical significance. One can also explore the trails on foot or by bike, with options to rent bikes available at the park. The park hosts several events throughout the year, including the Maple Sugaring Festival, Sky Fest Kite Festival, and a water ski show.

Seasonal events, such as the Haunted Fort and Halloween Hike, add a festive touch to the park’s offerings. Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to observe the prairie dog town, a unique attraction within the park.

5. Graham’s Island State Park

Graham's Island State Park(image via Instagram)

Grahams Island State Park, located on Devils Lake, offers a variety of recreational activities, with boating and swimming being major attractions due to the park’s location on the lake. The park is also home to hiking trails that visitors can stroll along for an immersive nature experience. For those who prefer a relaxing day, the beach and visitor center provide excellent spots to unwind.

Fishing is another popular activity at Grahams Island State Park, with the park being renowned for world-class fishing and ice fishing (in the winter months). The park’s beautiful grounds and clean swimming beach have earned it high recommendations from visitors.

4. Lake Metigoshe State Park

Lake Metigoshe State Park(image via Flickr)

Lake Metigoshe State Park in North Dakota offers a plethora of recreational activities for visitors. The park provides excellent opportunities for kayaking and canoeing on the small lakes within the park, making it a perfect spot for water sports enthusiasts. Hiking and biking are also popular activities, with over 12 miles of trails that allow visitors to explore the park’s natural beauty. 

The park is also a paradise for anglers, offering prime spots for fishing. Wildlife viewing is another major attraction, giving nature lovers the opportunity to observe local fauna in their natural habitat. For those interested in unique overnight experiences, the park offers yurt rentals.

3. Lake Sakakawea State Park

Lake Sakakawea State Park(image via Instagram)

Lake Sakakawea State Park is full of recreational activities for all types of visitors. Located on the southern shore of Lake Sakakawea, the park offers excellent opportunities for boating and fishing, attracting anglers with species like walleye, northern pike, and chinook salmon. The park also boasts a full-service marina to facilitate these water-based activities. 

Hiking is another popular activity here, with several trails offering breathtaking views of the lake. Visitors can also enjoy mountain biking along miles of multi-use trails. For overnight stays, the park provides various camping options, including traditional campgrounds and unique tipi camping. A full-service restaurant and boat rental services add to the convenience of this great park.

2. Lewis and Clark State Park

Lewis and Clark State Park

Lewis and Clark State Park in North Dakota is an outdoor paradise offering a multitude of recreational activities. Located on one of the upper bays of Lake Sakakawea, the park is a hotspot for boating and fishing, with species like Walleye, Sauger, and Northern Pike populating the waters. The park also features a swimming beach with washed sand, perfect for a relaxing day on the beach. 

Hiking enthusiasts will appreciate the park’s trails that provide stunning views of the rugged buttes of the North Dakota Badlands. Additionally, the park boasts an over 80-site campground and eight miles of multi-use trails, making it a popular destination for camping and biking. In the winter, activities like ice skating offer all-season outdoor experiences. Whether you’re seeking adventure or tranquility, Lewis and Clark State Park offers something for everyone.

1. Gunlogson State Park

Gunlogson State Park(image via Instagram)

Gunlogson State Nature Preserve, located within the Icelandic State Park near Cavalier, North Dakota, offers a range of activities for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. This 200-acre preserve is home to several rare plant and animal species, making it a fantastic place for wildlife viewing. 

The preserve features three miles of trails, providing opportunities for hiking and cross-country skiing. Boating, swimming, and fishing are also popular activities in the park. As part of the Icelandic State Park, visitors can also explore North Dakota’s homesteading heritage. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful walk through lowland woodland or an exciting day of water sports, Gunlogson State Nature Preserve has something to offer for every visitor.


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Summary

As you can see, Moab has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Moab, Utah.

These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.

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