Outdoor Adventure, North Dakota style
Get outside and experience North Dakota's great outdoors
The clean, fresh air, rugged terrain and sparkling waters of North Dakota all scream one thing: adventure. There’s something special about getting outside in North Dakota, whether you’re reeling in a walleye on Lake Sakakawea, reaching the summit of a hike through the Badlands or sleeping under the stars at a state park. You’ll truly experience North Dakota at its finest. So, step outside and come to life in our outdoors.
Playing in the parks
The great outdoors are even greater in North Dakota’s largest and most famous park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Named for the president who lived on this land in the late 1800s, and named the #5 must-see place to visit in the world in 2016 by The New York Times, the beauty and adventure that await here are unmatched. More than 70,000 acres of majestic rocky landscape await, ripe with opportunities to hike, camp, go for a scenic drive or even get a history lesson. Each of the three units feature distinctive western landscapes of towering buttes carved by the Little Missouri River. Bison, elk, mountain lions, eagles, wild horses and bighorn sheep roam the seemingly endless landscape.
At the same time, the whole state is filled with ample opportunity to play in our 13 state parks. We’re pretty serious about having fun outside. You can camp in a yurt, go waterskiing, take in a history lesson at an historic military fort or just relax in a hammock. There are endless ways to get out and play in North Dakota’s state parks.
- Fort Ransom State Park, Fort Ransom
- Turtle River State Park, Arvilla
- Icelandic State Park, Cavalier
- Grahams Island State Park, Devils Lake
- Beaver Lake State Park, Wishek
- Lake Metigoshe State Park, Bottineau
- Fort Stevenson State Park, Garrison
- Lake Sakakawea State Park, Pick City
- Cross Ranch State Park, Washburn
- Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Mandan
- Sully Creek State Park, Medora
- Little Missouri State Park, Killdeer
- Lewis and Clark State Park, Epping
Hiking and biking
Pedal down any one of the nine trail units of the famed Maah Daah Hey Trail. Varying in size and difficulty, they are a fantastic way to take in the scenery. Or if you’re really serious, you can do the full 144-mile trail –- perfect for the avid mountain biker. Don’t want to haul your bike? Don’t worry, packages and rentals are available. The Maah Daah Hey Trail is open to hikers and horseback riders, too. Less rugged but equally interesting options include the hiking and biking trails at North Dakota’s 13 state parks, and the North Country National Scenic Trail, which starts in New York state and ends at Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota (hikers only). For excitement on a different level, race down the mountain bike terrain course at Pembina Gorge Recreation area
On the water
Who knew a North Dakota lake, Lake Sakakawea, has more shoreline than California's Pacific coast? Our pristine lakes and rivers are an angler’s dream – and it’s open season all year long. We’re known as the “Walleye Capital of the World” and our long summer days mean there’s even more time to spend on the water. You won’t have to tell a “big fish” tale either, because here, every story is true. Just ask North Dakota native and actor Josh Duhamel, who says, “It’s hard to beat a day of fishing on a North Dakota lake with my best friends.”
Paddle On Rentals in Mandan provides kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals on Harmon Lake, plus overnight and day-long float trips on area rivers. Boathouse on the Red in Grand Forks has kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals on the Red River.
If you don’t have a rod in hand, hop on a Jet Ski®, kayak or even a sailboat and soak in the scenery.
Check out some of our notable lakes and rivers:
- Lake Sakakawea
- Devils Lake
- Lake Metigoshe
- Missouri River
- Red River
North Dakota also has more golf courses per capita than any other state. Some of the most recognized include Bully Pulpit at Medora, Hawktree at Bismarck, the Links of North Dakota near Williston and King's Walk at Grand Forks. Many other spectacular tracks, like Prairie West Golf Course at Mandan and Edgewood in Fargo, dot the landscape.
Scenic Byways and Backways
Summer and fall are picturesque times to enjoy North Dakota's 10 scenic byways and backways and to take in the diverse North Dakota topography: from buttes, Badlands and gorges to hills, prairies and forests. Fall in North Dakota is hunting season with hundreds of thousands of acres of available public land to bag that next trophy.
Birding and Wildlife Viewing
Birding and wildlife viewing is synonymous with North Dakota. Here you'll find more wildlife refuges than any other state, 13 state parks and three national park sites with family friendly opportunities to enjoy nature. At Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Sullys Hill National Game Preserve and the National Buffalo Museum, visitors can truly experience buffalo roaming the North Dakota prairie.
Click here for 11 specific ways to enjoy the great outdoors in North Dakota.