Cool Off This Summer Exploring North Dakota's Refreshing Waters
August 5, 2020 | View PDF
The perfect complement to a sunny, hot summer day is by getting out on the cool waters of North Dakota's lakes and rivers. Water lovers have their choices: Escape the crowd in one of Lake Sakakawea's many bays; take a thrilling kayak ride down the Missouri River from Garrison Dam to Bismarck; slowly canoe the Little Muddy Canoe Trail east of Williston; traverse the Red River separating North Dakota from Minnesota; or boat around Devils Lake or Lake Metigoshe with the wind blowing through your hair.
Once you leave any of the boat launches on 180-mile-long Lake Sakakawea, you might not see another soul all day, if that's how you want it. Pull into a bay to swim, tan, fish, ski, picnic and watch an occasional sailboat drift by. Or if you're so inclined, open the throttle for a run up or down the lake to enjoy lunch at a state park or resort.
Devils Lake is known as a fishing destination, but it's much more than that. The largest natural lake in North Dakota is brimming with resorts that offer boat rentals for a day of fishing or just plain old boating. Channel your inner explorer and kayak the steady current of the Missouri River, just like Lewis and Clark. Put in below Garrison Dam and follow the current to Fort Mandan at Washburn – reconstructed home of the Corps of Discovery – and on to Cross Ranch State Park. Come ashore for a night under the stars in a yurt, cabin or tent. Then it's on to Bismarck-Mandan. Don't have a canoe or transportation? Don't worry; Cross Ranch can set you up with both.
Other options: Paddle the gently flowing Sheyenne River within forested Fort Ransom State Park. Rentals and shuttles are available and lodging includes full-service yurts.
Explore the twisting Red River at Fargo and see how many species of birds flitter through or nest in the trees along the banks.
Jamestown Reservoir has seven boat launches, from which to launch in. Paddle out to the Island by Lakeside Marina for 24 holes of disc golf.
Lake Tschida, between Elgin and Glen Ullin, has 10 boat ramps and is popular with swimmers, paddle boarders, boaters and canoers and kayakers.
Harmon Lake near Mandan is popular with stand-up paddle boarders. The lake has a kayak launching dock and Paddle On Adventures provides rentals. Kayak and canoe rentals are also available at Lake Metigoshe State Park for those wanting the paddle around in the scenic Turtle Mountains along the U.S.-Canada border. Don't sit around steaming in the summer sun, not when these options are available for summer fun in the water.