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Sunrise sky over the Sheyenne River at Fort Ransom State Park, North Dakota, USA

Fort Ransom State Park lies within the heavily wooded Sheyenne River Valley only 84 miles west of Fargo. This picturesque area features 20 miles of multi-use trails, a large campground, and two historic homesteader farms: the Bjone House and the Andrew Sunne farm. These farmsteads come alive during the annual Sodbuster Days with exhibits, demonstrations, concessions, and more.

This peaceful North Dakota state park, named for a 1860s military fort, offers guests opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, camping, fishing, birdwatching, and picnicking.

Activities

Visit this beautiful area for a few relaxing days and nights and explore the extensive trail system, learn more about the early homesteaders, paddle down the scenic Sheyenne River, and get a closer look at some of the area’s native plants and animals.

The year round yurts and historic homestead offer an enjoyable visit during the winter as well. And during that time you’ll also have the added opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Cross-country skis are available to rent inside the Visitor Center.

Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Fort Ransom State Park:

Boating at Fort Ransom State Park

Get a closer look at the rustic beauty of North Dakota as you paddle along the Sheyenne River Water Trail. Bring your own kayak or canoe, or rent one inside the park. Paddles and life vests are included in each boat rental. A boat launch is located inside the park.

Hiking at Fort Ransom State Park

Fort Ransom State Park 20 miles of trails wind throughout the woodlands, across mixed grass prairie and along the rolling hills that lead up to beautiful overlooks of the Sheyenne River Valley. As you walk along these scenic trails you’ll be delighted by the beautiful woodlands, wildflowers, plants, wildlife, a waterfall, and the rustic wooden bridge that crosses over the creek.

Here are a few of the trails at Fort Ransom State Park:

  • North Country National Scenic Trail – This moderate 2.2 mile trail is part of the longer 4,600 mile trail that extends from upstate New York to Lake Sakakawea State Park (where it connects with the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail). This portion of the trail leads out to North Dakota’s only registered waterfall and a spectacular overlook of the Sheyenne River.
  • Little Twig Nature Trail – Easy 0.94 mile interpretive trail through the oak woodlands, wildflower meadows, and across several wooden bridges that cross over Bjorn Creek.
  • Valley View Trail – This easy 0.78 mile trail winds across an old field and mixed grass and wildflower prairie on its way out to Sunne Farm.

Covered Wagon at Fort Ransom State Park

Biking at Fort Ransom State Park

Fort Ransom State Park’s 20 miles of trails is also open for guests with mountain bikes. These grass and dirt hard-packed trails loop and connect as they stretch across the park and through the surrounding mixed grass prairie and hilly woodlands.

Here are a couple of popular trails for mountain biking inside Fort Ransom State Park:

  • Riverside Trail – This 0.25 mile trail winds through the woodlands and along the Sheyenne River.
  • Redetzke Ridge Trail – A 2.84 mile trail that extends across the mixed grass prairie and through the oak woodlands to connect with the North Country National Scenic Trail.

Horseback Riding at Fort Ransom State Park

Horseback riding is popular at Fort Ransom State Park. That’s partly because the park is a North Dakota designated horse park and features equestrian campsites, corrals, and other amenities for guests traveling with their horses.

Here are a couple of the trails open for riding inside Fort Ransom State Park:

  • White Tail Loop Trail – This 0.46 mile trail winds through the oaks and ash trees in a heavily wooded section of the park.
  • North Fork Trail – A 1.64 mile trail that follows Bjorn Creek through the oak woodlands and up to the North Plateau and breathtaking views.

Fishing at Fort Ransom State Park

Take a break from all the hustle and bustle and spend a relaxing day fishing from your boat or the shoreline along the Sheyenne River. You may catch a rock bass, catfish, Northern Pike, bullhead, or walleye. Just make sure to remember to purchase a North Dakota fishing license ahead of time.

Hills in Fort Ransom State Park, North Dakota, USA

Birding at Fort Ransom State Park

Birdwatching is popular within Fort Ransom State Park. Especially through the mixed grass prairie, meadows, and woodlands of green ash, American elm and oaks. Here and under the canopy of bur oak, green ash, quaking aspen and ironwood you may observe many species including Vesper Sparrows, Red-tailed Hawks, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Wild Turkeys, Scarlet Tanagers, and Indigo Buntings.

You may also have an opportunity to hear the distinct song of the Black-billed Cuckoo or the Eastern Wood Pewee.

Nature and Wildlife at Fort Ransom State Park

Oak woodlands, open meadows, and a floodplain forest along the Sheyenne River surround historic Sunne Farm inside Fort Ransom State Park. The scenic prairie comes alive during the spring with mixed grasses and native wildflowers such as prairie coneflower and purple coneflower.

Look for birds, squirrels, White-tailed Deer, rabbits, raccoons, and prairie dogs throughout the picturesque woodlands of American elm, green ash and boxelder trees.

Pets

Pets are allowed inside Fort Ransom State Park but must be leashed. There is a dog park area, along the southern section of the park, where dogs may run and play without leashes. This separate area also has a walking trail and river access.

Camping

Fort Ransom State Park features a large campground area with a variety of campsites (modern, primitive, group, and equestrian) 2 yurts, a rustic wagon, a camping cabin, and an historic homestead.

The equestrian camping areas have both primitive and electric campsites plus water and corral access. All campsites have a picnic table and fire ring and access to restrooms and showers. A playground, picnic shelters and a dump station are also located within the campground area.

Both the Pederson and Redetzke Yurts have all of the modern conveniences including heat, air conditioning, a full kitchen, bathroom, and space for 6 guests to sleep. The fully restored 1879 homestead, the Bjone House, lies along the Sheyenne River. This beautiful historic house sleeps 6. It has 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, full kitchen, and a back deck that overlooks the river. The homestead and yurts are available year round.

Park Location

Fort Ransom State Park
5981 Walt Hjelle Pkwy
Fort Ransom, ND 58033
Phone: 701.973.4331

Park Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Fort Ransom State Park: