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Wildflowers along the Missouri River at Cross Ranch State Park

Wildflowers along the Missouri River at Cross Ranch State Park. Photo: Park Facebook Page

Visitors to Cross Ranch State Park in central North Dakota might feel as though they have slipped back in time. This rustic area nestled along the Missouri River remains mostly untouched, preserving natural habitats within the surrounding woodlands and mixed grass prairie.

This beautiful area, just 9 miles south of Washburn, offers guests opportunities for camping, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, picnicking, and more.


Spend a few relaxing days and nights inside Cross Ranch State Park: camp, kayak along the scenic Missouri River, explore the trails that wind through the adjacent nature preserve, and observe the majestic bison from afar. You’ll discover plenty to keep you happy and occupied during your visit to this serene park.

If you’re looking for a place to get together with family or colleagues, consider having your next large gathering at the River Peoples Visitor Center Meeting Room or reserve one of the park’s covered picnic shelters. Contact the park for more information.

For winter visitors this North Dakota state park offers snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Rentals for both are available within the park.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Cross Ranch State Park:

Boating at Cross Ranch State Park

Witness the beauty surrounding Cross Ranch State Park by taking a paddling trip down the scenic Missouri River. A boat ramp allows for easy access onto the river as well as access to either a 2-mile or 9-mile water trail. Canoes and kayaks (singles and doubles) are available to rent inside the park. Life jackets and paddles are also included.

Hiking at Cross Ranch State Park

Explore some of the 17 miles of trails that flow through the surrounding woodlands, across the mixed grass prairie and near the bison habitat inside the adjacent 5,000 acre nature preserve. While all of the trails are open for hikers, some do share the pathway with mountain bikes during the warmer months and with guests with snowshoes and cross-country skis during the winter.

Here are a couple of the trails at Cross Ranch State Park:

  • TNC Self-Guided Prairie Trail – This 2 mile hiking trail winds through the scenic woodlands and across the Nature Conservancy bison pasture. Guidebooks with information about the local flora and fauna are available at the trailhead.
  • Ma-ak-oti “Old Village” Trail – A moderate 4.2 mile hiking trail that leads out to a creek that flows through a wooded ravine. Scenic views of the Missouri River may be seen along this path which also has sections of steep stairs that may be difficult for some guests.

Biking at Cross Ranch State Park

Nestled along the west bank of the Missouri River, this 589-acre state park and the adjacent 6,000-acre nature preserve offer miles of trails winding through the woodlands and across the prairie lands. A portion of this trail system is open for guests with mountain bikes. Here are a couple of those popular trails inside Cross Ranch State Park:

  • Cottonwood Trail/Gaines Trail – These 2 trails combined together offer 5.4 miles through the forest inside the adjacent nature preserve that’s ideal for mountain biking or hiking. These trails are also open for cross-country skiing during the winter.
  • Matah “River” Trail – This 2.9 mile trail loops through the park and along the river highlighting the area’s flora, fauna, history, and geology.

Fishing at Cross Ranch State Park

Pack your angling gear and be sure to pick up a North Dakota fishing license before heading into Cross Ranch State Park. Then spend a relaxing morning or afternoon catching trout, catfish, bass, salmon, walleye, or pike from your canoe or along the banks of the Missouri River.

Birding at Cross Ranch State Park

Wild Turkeys, Bald Eagles, American Bitterns, Black Terns, Franklin’s Gulls, Horned Grebes, Long-billed Curlews, Piping Plovers, Tundra Swans, Upland Sandpipers, White Pelicans, Canada Geese, and Common Mergansers are just some of the many birds that may be seen throughout the park and surrounding woodlands.

Nature and Wildlife at Cross Ranch State Park

Cross Ranch State Park and the nearby Nature Conservancy Cross Ranch Preserve offer guests a chance to see a variety of wildlife as well as mixed grass prairie, woodlands, and the scenic Missouri River. A 2 mile hiking trail that winds through the preserve provides visitors with an up close view of bison, deer, squirrels, bobcats, and more.


Pets are allowed at Cross Ranch State Park but must be kept on a leash and supervised at all times.


For visitors interested in staying overnight in the park, Cross Ranch State Park features two separate campgrounds with both modern and primitive campsites plus yurts and cabins. The modern individual and group campsites have electricity connections available.

The camping cabins and rustic yurts are tucked into the shaded woodlands near the main campground areas. Each features beds, lights, electricity, heat and air conditioning.

All campsites have a picnic table and fire ring and access to restrooms. Showers are available inside the Visitor Center. Also located within the campground area are a playground, picnic shelters, and a dump station.

York Cabin and Pretty Point Yurt offer guests all the comforts of home and spectacular views of the Missouri River. Both feature beds for 6 guests, a bathroom, full kitchen, electricity, heat, and air conditioning.

Park Location

Cross Ranch State Park
1403 River Rd
Center, ND 58530
Phone: 701.794.3731

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Cross Ranch State Park: