If you’re seeking the perfect place to pitch a tent this summer, North Dakota’s state parks offer a variety of campgrounds to immerse yourself in the state’s natural beauty. From expansive prairie escapes to rugged mountain hideaways, these parks provide dynamic landscapes that make every camping adventure unique. Relax on the shores of a peaceful lake. Cast a line for rainbow trout in the Missouri River. Or, stay in a cabin near a historic fort.
Whether you’re adventuring solo or with the family, here are eight state parks you should consider for your next camping excursion.
Beaver Lake State Park (Logan County)
Tucked away on the shores of a quiet lake, Beaver Lake State Park offers modern and primitive campsites, hiking trails and fishing, all with gorgeous views of North Dakota’s prairies. Hike more than five miles of hiking trails, from the Old Settlers Trail that winds along the shores of the lake to the Woodland Trail through the grasslands and surrounding forests. Birdwatchers should keep an eye out for native species such as kingbirds, meadowlarks and chickadees. And if you love water sports, the lake is perfect for casting a line for northern pike and walleye.
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park (Morton County)
Campers and historians alike will find much to love about Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, the oldest state park in North Dakota. Settle in at one of the 100 campsites along the Missouri and Heart Rivers, or rent one of the two seasonal cabins. Learn about life on the frontier and explore Fort Abraham Lincoln and Fort McKeen. You can even take a guided tour through the barracks and officers’ quarters. Check out On-a-Slant Village – home to Indigenous American earth lodges during your stay.
Icelandic State Park (Pembina County)
Gracefully seated along Lake Renwick’s northern expanse, Icelandic State Park is home to 912 acres of lakes, rivers, trails, a wildlife sanctuary, and 157 waterfront campsites. For fun on the water, rent a stand-up paddleboard, canoe or kayak. Looking to soak up the sun? The lake’s sandy shoreline is the perfect place to relax. Nature enthusiasts should explore the three-mile trail system in the Gunlogson Nature Preserve, where the elusive western wood pewee (a rare bird) might make an appearance. Discover not just nature but history too. Landmarks like Akra Community Hall and Hallson Church recount North Dakota’s homesteading era. You can learn more about the days of the region’s early settlers at the Pioneer Heritage Center.
Lake Metigoshe State Park (Bottineau County)
Indulge your passion for the outdoors at North Dakota’s year-round gem: Lake Metigoshe State Park. A paradise for nature lovers, it boasts various activities spanning the seasons. Choose between secluded campsites or group sites with electric hook-ups, or opt for charming cabins like the Slemmen Lodge or the White Pelican cabin on the Hemerick Trail. And yes, there’s even a yurt offering front-row seats to picturesque lake views. Traverse woodlands and wetlands along hiking and mountain biking trails and encounter moose, beavers, and white-tailed deer. In the winter, trade your boots for snowshoes and skis, or join the thrill of sledding down snowy slopes. Anglers, rejoice! The lake transforms into an icy playground for bluegill and crappie fishing.
Lake Sakakawea State Park (Mercer County)
If you’re planning a weekend camping and fishing trip, head to Lake Sakakawea State Park. Located on the shores of North Dakota’s largest reservoir, this park is a fishermen’s dream, thanks to waters teeming with chinook salmon, northern pike, and walleye. Beyond fishing, the reservoir is perfect for sailing and windsurfing, thanks to high winds. And if you love to hike, the park is home to a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail, which extends 4,600 miles from Vermont. Here, you’ll hike through a shortgrass prairie and see wildlife such as pheasants and deer. Regarding campsites, you’ll find a mix of modern and no-frills sites to choose from. For a quiet weekend, set up your tent on the shore of the lake. There’s nothing better than watching a peaceful sunset over the tranquil waters.
Lewis and Clark State Park (Epping)
You’ll find Lewis and Clark State Park at Lake Sakakawea’s northern tip, where the Missouri River flows gracefully. Envision a canvas of rugged buttes and rolling hills, offering a breathtaking backdrop for your camping adventure. Trails wind through tree-lined ravines, inviting hikes through grasslands and prairies. Spend the day on the water boating, kayaking or canoeing (equipment rentals are available at the Trader’s Bay Visitor Center). Wildflowers paint the park with hues of bluebells, coneflowers, and wild aster, a paradise for flora enthusiasts. With various campgrounds and two seasonal cabins, you’re spoiled for choice. Even winter brings charm, with four miles of snowshoeing trails to explore.
Little Missouri State Park (Dunn County)
With astounding vistas of North Dakota’s Badlands, Little Missouri State Park is a haven for birdwatchers. From bald eagles to black-milled magpies and chipping sparrows, campers spending the night here should have their camera ready. Despite being a smaller state park, it’s an ideal haven for tranquility seekers in North Dakota’s backcountry. Venture onto 45 miles of hiking trails, spotting local wildlife like red foxes, bobcats, and mule deer. Equestrian enthusiasts have their share, too, with various routes and corrals for horseback exploration.
Turtle River State Park (Grand Forks County)
Nestled in a stunning wooded valley along the Turtle River’s shores, this park is ideal for a weekend camping getaway. Discover numerous secluded campsites dotting the area, some right by the riverbank, plus cabins tucked within the woods. Hikers can explore 12 miles of trails weaving through hills and by Turtle River, while select paths offer prime terrain for mountain biking. Fishing enthusiasts will find the river teeming with trout, a golden opportunity for fly fishing. Winter transforms the landscape into a snow-draped wonderland, drawing cross-country skiers to trails like Fisher-Timber Loop. For avid treasure hunters, several geocaches are hidden in the vicinity.