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Dusk sunlight over a river, , photographed at Turtle River State Park, North Dakota

Turtle River State Park, with its namesake river flowing through its forested valley from northeast to southwest, is located 19 miles west of Grand Forks. Occupying 775 acres in Grand Forks County, this North Dakota state park was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corp and features several structures and facilities such as the CCC Dam, the Woodland Lodge, and the CCC Memorial Shelter, as well as many opportunities for year-round outdoor activities.

The park’s diverse ecosystems allow for extensive birdwatching, and there is also an expansive, 12-mile riverside trail system, much of which is multi-use. Offering beautiful scenery and attractive, full-service day-use facilities, Turtle River State Park is also a popular wedding and special event destination.

Activities

With its natural beauty and many amenities, Turtle River State Park provides a host of year-round outdoor experiences for visitors, including mountain biking, trail hiking, camping, bird-watching, geocaching, snowshoeing, fishing, sledding, cross-country skiing, and much more.

Hiking

Featuring over 12 miles of hiking trails, Turtle River State Park offers easy to moderate family-friendly routes for all skill levels, most of which are multi-use. Many of the trails are predominantly wooded and offer beautiful, meandering river views, while some traverse open prairieland.

Here are some of the more popular multi-use trails at Turtle River State Park:

  • Raven Ravine Loop – Easy, 2.46-mile loop trail with a 118’ elevation gain; wooded with one creek crossing (there is a bridge). Hiking, mountain biking, and snowshoeing are permitted on the Raven Ravine Loop trail, portions of which are groomed for hiking and fat-tire biking in the winter.
  • Keystone Bridge – Easy, 1.6-mile out-and-back trail with a 118’ elevation gain that follows the river corridor. Hiking, mountain biking, and snowshoeing are permitted on the Keystone Bridge trail, portions of which are groomed for hiking and fat-tire biking in the winter.
  • Hollows – Moderate, 2.5-mile out-and-back trail with a 52’ elevation gain, with access to the Hollows Bridge. Hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are permitted on the Hollows trail, portions of which are groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing, hiking, and fat-tire biking.

Mountain Biking at Turtle River State Park

Nearly 11 miles of the trails at Turtle River State Park permit mountain biking and feature a diverse range of environments like prairieland, woods, riverside ridges, and oxbow wetlands. There are also portions of several trails—the Raven Ravine, Keystone Bridge, and Hollows trails—that are groomed for fat-tire biking in the winter months.

Cross-country Skiing, Snowshoeing, & Other Winter Activities at Turtle River State Park

As Turtle River State Park is open all year long, winter activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and fat-tire biking are popular once the snow flies. There is an excellent sledding hill near the Chalet at the south end of the park; snowshoeing is permitted on all of the trails, while four trails are groomed for cross-country skiing and three for fat-tire biking.

Fishing at Turtle River State Park

Fishing is permitted in Turtle River, which is very popular with fly fishermen. The river is usually stocked with trout in spring or late summer; another popular catch in the park is the northern pike, which is native to Turtle River.

Nature & Wildlife at Turtle River State Park

Offering interpretive trails and diverse habitats, Turtle River State Park is popular with both bird watchers and nature lovers. A breeding spot for over 96 species of birds as well as a migratory rest stop for a host of others, the park is considered an important native woodland habitat—which is rare in North Dakota.

Species that have been spotted in the park include the black-billed cuckoo, eastern screech owl, great-crested flycatcher, bald eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, scarlet tanager, and indigo bunting. The park is also home to many mud and snapper turtles, which give the river its name. Another popular nature-centric event at the park is the annual tagging and releasing of migrating monarchs in late summer.

There is also a fascinating monarch habitat at the visitor’s center, which also hosts many other free educational natural presentations, hikes, and exhibits throughout the year.

Pets

Dogs are welcome in the state park—as long as they are leashed—and there is a dog park near the visitor center.

Camping

There are 65 campsites at Turtle River State Park that offer water and 50-amp service; there are no sewer hookups, but there is an on-site dumping station. There are also 3 group sites with water and electric service as well as 26 primitive sites.

The campground is located at the northwest corner of the park and features amenities like bathrooms, picnic shelters, WiFi, an amphitheater, a convenience store, a playground, and both river and trail access. There are also ten rustic Woodland Cabins available to rent in the park; note that the cabins are not year-round (open from mid-May to mid-September) and do not have kitchens.

Cabins sleep between 3-6 people (two are wheelchair-accessible) and feature air conditioning, heat, private showers, and toilets; linens are not provided, and both pets and smoking are not allowed in any of the cabins.

Park Location

Turtle River State Park
3084 Park Avenue
Arvilla, ND 58214
Phone: 701.795.3180

Park Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Turtle River State Park: