North Dakota State Parks

One of the greatest aspects of North Dakota is the strong focus on conservation. The fact that North Dakota wildlife refuges outnumber regular state parks speaks volumes about the state’s dedication to the environment and animal species. North Dakota wildlife is rich and diverse and includes such animals as bison, grouse, eagles, antelope, and turkeys. Animals thrive around the large number of excellent lakes, as well as the natural habitats throughout North Dakota state parks. Lake Sakakawea State Park is renowned for fantastic salmon and walleye fishing with anglers reaching fish limits regularly.

Throngs of varied bird species are protected within North Dakota wildlife refuges across the state. Nature-lovers seeking camping facilities throughout North Dakota state parks delight in the array of good choices available. Camping offers an avenue for visitors to get in touch with nature and see many species of North Dakota wildlife. Hiking also affords many opportunities to catch glimpses of rare and common birds.

Chase Lake National Wildlife refuge is one of the best bird protection areas in the state. Established in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt, this refuge is a breeding ground and reserve for native species of birds, and more than 290 different bird species use this refuge as a resting and breeding habitat. White pelicans are a great example of protected wildlife of North Dakota, with the biggest known nesting colony making its home at Chase Lake. Only 45 minutes from Jamestown in Tappen, Chase Lake is a terrific area for hiking and bird-watching.

Migratory birds and other North Dakota wildlife are protected throughout Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, two hours south of Devils Lake. The history of this refuge dates back to 1935, when it was established as a link in an extensive chain of North Dakota state parks and wildlife refuges. This chain extends from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the Canadian border. This protected area comprises almost 16,000 acres where North Dakota wildlife thrive among the prairie grasslands, marshes, lakes, and wooded streams.

Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge lies two hours east of Minot and near the small community of Moffit. Established by President Herbert Hoover this refuge protects a wide range of migratory birds. More than 20,000 acres of land are home to both migratory and native species of birds, as well as an assortment of other wildlife. Of all North Dakota state parks and wildlife refuges, Long Lake is notable for attracting more than 10,000 beautiful sandhill cranes in the fall, as well as whooping cranes when their biannual migration time begins. Most exceptional, though, are the bald eagles that can be seen in the spring and again in the fall.

With so many birds, it's not a surprise that there are even a couple of annual bird festivals. Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival in June leads guided tours to three North Dakota wildlife refuges for bird-watching with professionals. Afterward seminars, dining, and entertainment are available. Burke County Birding Festival, also in June, offers birding tours, educational presentations, wildflower walks, great food, and tons of family fun.

North Dakota is the native land of dozens of kinds of birds living in and migrating through the region. Visitors enjoying North Dakota vacations should keep their eyes open for hawks and bald eagles, which are often seen perched upon fence posts, sitting in drying hay bales, and resting in trees. Tours of North Dakota's most important refuges afford terrific insight into the breadth of bird life in the state. They also provide the opportunity to enjoy the rustic side of North Dakota, perhaps choosing camping over hotels and visiting some of the hundreds of lakes blanketing the region.

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