Where to Camp in the Peace Garden State
North Dakota is a unique state due to its three distinct geographic regions — the Red River Valley in the east, the Missouri Plateau in the west, and the Great Plains and Badlands in the south. The diversity of the North Dakota landscape offers a unique camping experience in each of the three regions.
Whether you're a mountain climber, hunter, fisherman or just someone who enjoys the peace and serenity in the outdoors, you'll find what you're looking for in North Dakota.
Here are our top North Dakota campgrounds.
1. Lewis and Clark State Park – Williston
Lewis and Clark State Park is situated on one of the upper bays of Lake Sakakawea. The rugged buttes of the North Dakota Badlands display a towering backdrop to one of the state's best recreation areas..
2. Schnell Ranch Recreation Area – Richardton
Schnell is a non-motorized area with good opportunities for wildlife viewing, nature photography, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, camping, and environmental education. Dispersed primitive tent camping is allowed on the property except along an established 1.5 mile nature trail.
3. Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Medora
When Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was a skinny, young, spectacled dude from New York. He could not have imagined how his adventure in this remote and unfamiliar place would forever alter the course of the nation. The rugged landscape and strenuous life that TR experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today.
4. Mel Rieman Campground – Lake Ashtabula
The Mel Rieman Campground and Recreation Area is a 70-acre facility on the shoreline of Lake Ashtabula in eastern North Dakota. The campground is known for its spectacular sunset views. It is close to the Baldhill Dam and within walking distance of the Mel Rieman day-use area, where visitors can swim, fish and picnic. Learn more.
5. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park – Mandan
Popular with visitors is On-A-Slant Indian Village. Reconstructed earthlodges depict the lifestyle of the Mandan Indians, who occupied this site from about 1575-1781. A modern campground is located in a scenic wooded area adjacent to the Heart River with picnic sites and playground equipment. Walking along the gently sloping hills, visitors have a panoramic vista of the Missouri River from the park's nature and historic trails.
6. Turtle River State Park – Arvilla
Situated on the meandering Turtle River, Turtle River State Park is located in a beautiful wooded valley. Constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park offers year-round recreational activities, including camping, picnicking, fishing and trails for hiking, mountain biking and cross country skiing. Rustic group cabins can also be rented.
7. Ft. Stevenson State Park – Garrison
On the north shore of giant Lake Sakakawea, Ft. Stevenson State Park is known as the walleye capital of North Dakota. A favorite spot for sportsmen to experience the great fishing on the lake, it is home to the Governor's Cup Walleye Fishing Derby, as well as a variety of other fishing tournaments.
8. Icelandic State Park – Cavalier
Located on the north shore of Lake Renwick, Icelandic State Park offers visitors not only a wide array of recreational opportunities, but also glimpses of North Dakota's homesteading heritage and its natural beauty.
Boating, swimming and fishing for northern pike and other game fish are popular activities. Picnic areas enable visitors to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the shade of old oak trees, while the campgrounds offer full amenities, including electrical hookups, modern comfort stations with showers and sewage dump station. Three sleeping cabins are also available from mid-May through the end of September.
9. Lake Sakakawea State Park – Pick City
Located on the south shore of Lake Sakakawea, adjacent to Garrison Dam, Lake Sakakawea State Park offers a wide range of water based recreational activities and facilities. The park has a full service marina, including convenience store, fishing guide services and boat and camper storage. For information on marina services contact the park directly at 701.487.3315. Two large boat ramps serve the park for access to the best salmon fishing on the lake. The park hosts numerous fishing derbies throughout the summer.
10. Grahams Island State Park – Devil's Lake
Devils Lake—North Dakota's largest natural lake—is home to Grahams Island State Park an 1,122 acre park on the lakes's west side. The lake is a closed drainage basin, marked by periods of fluctuating water levels. Over the past decade the lake has risen over 25 feet. Grahams Island State Park is connected by road over an elevated embankment, and travelers should exercise caution during high winds.
Do you have a favorite camping spot in North Dakota that wasn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments!
And be sure to check out the rest of our Best Campgrounds in the US series.