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aerial photograph of Bismarck, North Dakota

North Dakota is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the whole of the USA. From vast prairies to scenic rivers, the state offers a variety of outdoor adventures for nature enthusiasts to enjoy.

If you live in the Bismarck area or just happen to be visiting, you’ll find yourself in the heart of North Dakota’s natural beauty, with many state parks just a short drive away.

For this reason, it is worth making a note of these 5 state parks near Bismarck in North Dakota. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, fishing or just enjoying a picnic in the great outdoors, the city and its surrounding areas have plenty of options for you.

So, grab your boots, fishing rod and a packed lunch, and get ready to explore the natural wonders of this beautiful part of the world.

Map of State Parks Near Bismarck, ND

Here is a map of the state parks in North Dakota covered by this post:

List of State Parks Near Bismarck

The summary of state parks listed below are all well worth visiting. Irrespective of which ones you go to, they can all be arrived at within a couple of hours drive from the city.

1. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park with clouds in the background

Location: 4480 Fort Lincoln Rd, Mandan, ND 58554

Named after the famous fort that was established there in the late 1800s, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is a fascinating place to visit for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts.

Situated along the Missouri River, the park covers over 1,000 acres and is packed full of historic buildings that showcase the rich history of the area, including the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn.

One of the main attractions of the park is the reconstructed Custer House, which was the home of General George Armstrong Custer and his wife Elizabeth during their time at the fort. The house has been restored to its original 1875 appearance and is open to visitors for guided tours.

The park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and fishing. In addition, there are several trails that wind through it, including the Fort Lincoln Loop Trail, which takes hikers on a tour of the park’s historic sites.

The park also has a campground with over 100 campsites, as well as picnic areas, a swimming beach, and a marina.

2. Cross Ranch State Park

Wildflowers along the Missouri River at Cross Ranch State Park

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

Location: 1403 River Rd, Center, ND 58530

At just over an hour north of Bismarck, Cross Ranch State Park is a very popular destination for nature lovers.

Another park that is situated along the banks of the Missouri River, it covers an area of over 5,000 acres of picturesque rolling hills, lush forests, and picturesque grasslands.

Fishing is one of the most popular activities at the park, while many visitors also take the opportunity to rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats to explore the river and nearby tributaries.

Throughout the park, wildlife viewing is also a popular activity, with several species of birds and animals calling it home, including deer, coyotes, and bald eagles. Park visitors can also enjoy hiking through several miles of trails that wind through the rugged terrain, offering stunning views of the river and surrounding landscape.

Additionally, camping is also a popular activity at Cross Ranch State Park, with over 70 campsites available for both tent and RV camping. Modern cabins are also available to provide visitors with all the comforts of home while still being immersed in nature.

3. Beaver Lake State Park

Beaver Lake State Park, near Wishek, North Dakota

Beaver Lake State Park, near Wishek, North Dakota. Photo: David Becker, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Location: 3850 70th St SE, Wishek, ND 58495

Beaver Lake State Park is a splendid state park located near Wishek, about 2 hours from Bismarck.

Situated on the shores of Beaver Lake, it covers 283 acres of land and offers excellent opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and other water-based activities. Visitors can also rent paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, and rowboats, or bring their own motorized watercraft to enjoy the water. There is also a sandy beach area for swimming and sunbathing in the summer months.

In addition, the park offers a variety of amenities, including picnic shelters, a playground, hiking trails, and a campground which has 60 campsites. These include 21 electric sites and offer modern restroom and shower facilities.

The park also has a group campsite and two cabins available for rent.

For those interested in exploring the surrounding area, the park is close to a number of attractions, including the Wishek Living History Museum and the Ashley World’s Largest Working Holstein Cow. The nearby Beaver Creek Wildlife Management Area also offers additional opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and hunting.

4. Sully Creek State Park

aerial photograph of Sully Creek State Park

Location: 1465 36th St, Medora, ND 58645

Boasting sites like the On-A-Slant Indian Village, which dates back more than 500 years, and Fort Mandan, where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1804-1805 during their famous expedition, a visit to Sully Creek State Park is a fascinating lesson in history.

Located just 30 minutes from Bismarck, the park is a charming natural oasis nestled in the heart of North Dakota’s rugged badlands. It covers more than 2,000 acres of stunning rolling hills, verdant valleys, and rugged rock formations, and provides a tranquil setting to enjoy a range of outdoor recreation opportunities.

Hiking is the most popular activity here, with a network of trails weaving through the prairies, woodlands, and valleys. Hikers can enjoy scenic vistas, observe the abundant wildlife and flora, and explore historic sites like the Old Red Trail and the remnants of the old townsite of Sully Springs.

In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy fishing in the nearby Little Missouri River, which is known for its trout and catfish populations. Camping is also available in the park, with 26 primitive campsites and several modern cabins at its campground.

5. Lake Sakakawea State Park

Pavilion by the water at Lake Sakakawea State Park

Pavilion by the water at Lake Sakakawea State Park. Photo: Park Facebook Page

Location: Pick City, ND 58545

If you are into having fun on the water then it is hard to go past Lake Sakakawea State Park.

Located on the southern shore of Lake Sakakawea, this massive reservoir stretches for over 200 miles in central North Dakota. There, visitors can enjoy a variety of water-based activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming.

The park itself covers 1,520 acres and is also a popular spot for hiking and biking. Overall, more than 11 miles of trails wind through the scenic North Dakota Badlands, offering stunning views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

For those who want to stay for a few nights, the park also has a variety of camping options, including tent and RV sites, cabins, and group camping areas. Many of the sites have electric hookups and access to water.