Check out these North Dakota travel destinations over the summer

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·13 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

DEVILS LAKE - As summer approaches, students are gaining freedom from school life for a few months and families of the Devils Lake Area are enjoying the warmer weather and looking to get out and hit the roads.

Exploring the great outdoors in the state is a fulfilling experience for a number of reasons. You get to learn about all the history there is in the state and you get to see some great sites too!

Here are some of the Devils Lake Journal's top choices to visit during the summer season.

Fort Union Trading Post

Located on the border with Montana and lying next to the Upper Missouri River, the Fort Union Trading Post is a reconstructed version of the original version from the 1800's.

According to historic, the post served as a site where Indian tribes came to exchange furs and buffalo skins for guns, beads, and blankets.

Every June, the Rendezvous gathering allows visitors to watch actors bring the trading post’s past to life.

International Peace Garden

Placed beautifully right in the Turtle Mountains on the border of Canada, the International Peace Garden straddles the frontier between North Dakota and Manitoba.

The garden boats are over 2,300 acres of gardens, lakes, wildflowers, and waterfalls that are home to many different species of birds and animals with over 155,000 flowers planted in ways that make for some great pictures.

Maah Daah Hey Trail

Linking the North Unit to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail has been called one of the best mountain biking trails in the country.

Visitors are able to take to the trails by horse, bicycle or on a good natured hike.

With amenities every twenty miles and some picture grabbing scenery on offer, Maah Daah Hey Trail is a great option for an outdoor adventure.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a beautiful place to visit due to the spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife. The park is divided into two sections. The North Unit is a great entry point for tourists to the Badlands; the visitor’s center has exhibits, short films and displays on the park’s history, animals and geography.

There are some great paths and trails that snake away from the center, and a short drive away is the Oxbow Overlook, which offers some fantastic views of the park. Walking amidst the fauna and flora is a revitalizing feeling – you may even catch a glimpse of some of the majestic animals that roam freely around the stunning scenery.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an American national park of the badlands in western North Dakota comprising three geographically separated areas. Honoring U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, it is the only American national park named directly after a single person.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an American national park of the badlands in western North Dakota comprising three geographically separated areas. Honoring U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, it is the only American national park named directly after a single person.

Set in the North Dakota ‘Badlands,’ the Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit is the perfect place to stop by when visiting the fantastic wild landscapes of the region. With amazing rock formations that are a stunning mixture of red, yellow, black and silver, and tufts of green springing up here and there, the Badlands make for memorable viewing.

Named after the former President who liked to hunt bison here, the park commemorates his work in preserving the United States’ natural resources. The South Unit welcomes visitors to explore Roosevelt’s old cabin that is located next to it, and there is a nice museum which looks at the history and nature of the park.

Lying next to Interstate 94, the park is easily accessed and the wildlife viewing on offer is brilliant, with bison, coyotes, cougars and more residing within its boundaries. A wonderful place to visit, from the South Unit you can hike or horse trek amidst the stunning scenery of the park – you can even camp under the beautiful stars.

Creel Bay Golf Course

Come out and play!Everyone from skilled amateurs, weekend duffers, beginners, to families looking for fun have a great option for golfing in Devils Lake.

Creel Bay Golf Course features 18 holes and reasonable rates for all. Clubhouse manager is Rob McIvor, well-known coachfrom Devils Lake High School.

Check out these places to visit this summer
Check out these places to visit this summer

Under the direction of the Devils Lake Park Board, Creel Bay Golf Course provides greens fees that are competitive with a variety of choices for golfers, whether you’re out for a quick nine or the whole 18. Unlimited golf isalso available on specific days from 4 p.m. to close.

Special rates are offered for active military members and youths.Twilight Golf is a great way for hackers to hone their skills in the summer while keeping cool in the evening hours. Creel Bay also has a pro shop, so players can gear up before hitting the links. The clubhouse also features a snack bar and a full dining experience.Check out the online registration option for golf season.

The course opens May 1.Ladies league is Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Men’s league Tuesdays 3 p.m. to sundown.

The bar is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

They’re planning to restore 230 trees lost on the front 9 to keep it sheltered and protected and in the future plan to install a boat dock with access to the course. All you need to do is show up and golf, have a good time with your family and friends!

Go to www.creelbaygolf.com for more information.

Grahams Island State Park

You will find Grahams Island, one of the busiest state parks in North Dakota, west on ND Highway 19 10 miles, then turn south another five miles into the park.Grahams Island State Park, located on Devils Lake, and is named after one of the first known white settlers in the area, Captain Duncan Graham.

The park offers camping and picnicking facilities. It has one of the nicest playgrounds for children and families, a maintained sandy beach for swimming and sunning, plus the Sivert Thompson Activity Center seats up to 180 people, has a wood burning fireplace, indoor bathrooms, kitchen area and air conditioning. A gas grill is also available for use. This lovely facility is perfect for a wedding reception or family reunion.

There is a fee of $200 a day for this center. Grahams Island has two picnic shelters available for use. The south shelter (electricity) has 6 tables and seats 48. The north shelter (no electricity) has 4 tables and seats 32. A standing wood/charcoal grill is present at each shelter. To book a picnic shelter please call the park at (701) 766-4015. The fee for reserving these shelters is $25 a day. Free interpretive programs led by park rangers throughout each weekend help young and old appreciate the nature around them in this special place and provide activities for families visiting the area.

There is a boat ramp providing access to the lake for fishing and other water sports as well as a bait shop and visitor center and fuel facility. There’s even an enclosed dog park located near the Sivert Thompson Activity Center. Other park amenities include horseshoe courts, volleyball courts and groomed walking or hiking trails through the woods. The park hosts numerous national and regional fishing tournaments during the year, as Devils Lake offers some of the best fishing in the Midwest.

There are modern campsites with electrical hookups and more primitive tent campsites -whatever you desire. Comfort stations with hot showers and flush toilets, and RV sewage dump station are available from mid-May through October. Park rangers provide art and learning activities throughout the summer for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. The Thursday edition of the Devils Lake Journal will feature the topics planned for each weekend, so check the newspaper’s Entertainment page each week of the summer to see what’s planned at Grahams Island. Reservations can be made by calling 800-807-4723 or by going to the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department website at www.parkrec.nd.gov

Hawk Museum

Just a little past the neighboring community of Cando, northwest of Devils Lake, near Wolford, you will find North Dakota’s largest display of early northern prairie life..You can almost hear the past come alive when you enter the grounds of the Dale and Martha Hawk Museum. Housed in 16 buildings the museum consists of one of a kind vehicles and articles of prairie life in North Dakota, including the 1912 Hackney Auto Plow -the last one of its kind that still runs. The Potratz Building houses antique tractors and cars and the Tractor Shed houses steamers, threshers and tractors. There is the original Hawk home, as it was, a barn, machine shop and blacksmith shop.

Other historical buildings located on site are the Nanson One Room School, the first home of the Wolford School, the Presbyterian Church of Wolford, the Marker Lutheran Church from rural Barton, Mylo’s Community Hall -all set up to depict life during the period. There is the Henry Johnson General Store from Nanson, which includes the Nanson U.S. Post Office, a cream testing station and meat market. On the second weekend of June each year the museum hosts the Antique Farm Show which includes a daily parade with hundreds of tractors, steam engines and antique equipment. Demonstrations of steam threshing, saw milling, planning and shingle making take place all weekend and live music with great food makes it a worthwhile trip.

Spirit Lake Casino and Resort

Spirit Lake Casino and Resort has gained a reputation for being one of the top entertainment venues in the entire state of North Dakota. Known for its Las Vegas style showroom atmosphere, the casino has brought in the likes of many top name entertainment legends, such as Clint Black, Merle Haggard, Air Supply, The Smothers Brothers and Bobby Bare. Williams and Ree are regular performers on the SLC&R stage. The beautiful showroom seats 1,000, providing an up close and personal experience with the entertainer. There truly is not a bad seat in the house. After an evening of entertainment, why not take a chance to cash in and visit the gaming floor? The casino offers the widest variety in the state with the latest games and technologies, making the gaming experience a notch above the rest. With over 730 slot machines all 100 percent ticket in/ticket out, this allows guests to move between machines and no more waiting in long lines to cash in coins.

They have a high stakes room if you're feeling really lucky or want to try your hand at one of the table games like blackjack, poker or craps.

In addition to the showroom, Spirit Lake Casino and Resort is truly a resort destination with a full service marina next door, offering the best boat access on the lake, a grocery store open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily with extended hours one day each month, an RV Park and fully furnished log cabins are available year-round. There are also many different rooms and suites available at the Spirit Lake Hotel.

Food is also a favorite of all who come to Spirit Lake Casino and Resort. With many favorites to try at the Dakota Buffet or the Snack Bar, there is something for everyone. The View Steakhouse is an unforgettable dining experience. It offers a variety of choices to please any palate. While dining, guests can take in a beautiful panoramic vista of the lake and surrounding area, truly the best view around.

If you want to get away from it all but still have all the great amenities of a resort, Spirit Lake Casino is just the place.

Players Club members can now enjoy Personal Banker, the latest in technology that lets you play credits and reap cash rewards all without leaving your machine.

Whatever your recreation, you can find it all on the shores of Devils Lake right here at the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort! www. spiritlakecasino.com.It’s not only about gaming, either, at the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort. They sponsor an entire day of the Devils Run each June with the Muscle Car Show and all the accompanying activities, which includes a concert, meals, prizes and special promotions. Don’t forget about the Burnout, Flame Throwing and Muffler Rapping events, too!

For over 10 years years the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort has donated to and participated in Fishing Has No Boundaries providing an opportunity for angling to individuals who have physical or developmental challenges.

The Spirit Lake Casino and Resort is involved in many other things to benefit the community including but not limited to hosting blood drives, participating in the Devils Lake Country Club activities, the Lake Region Relay For Life and hosting the Devils Lake service clubs.

White Horse Hill

Check out these places to visit this summer.
Check out these places to visit this summer.

Located along the south shore of Devils Lake in the heart of the Spirit Lake Nation Indian Reservation, White Horse Hill National Game Preserve (formerly known as Sullys Hill) is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including migratory birds, bison, elk and prairie dogs. The preserve consists of 1,674 acres ranging from prairie to forested hills.

By the time White Horse Hill NGP was established in 1904, North American bison numbers had plummeted from tens of millions to less than 1,000. Protective laws, establishment of refuges and propagation of private herds helped save the species from extinction. Now numbering about 500,000 animals in North America, substantial work continues to rebuild herds with pure bison DNA. Years of cross breeding with free ranging cattle diluted the genetic purity of the North American Plains bison. Perhaps as few as 15,000 bison are considered pure bison, free of introduced cattle genes.

The White Horse Hill herd is one of the smallest herds managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The White Horse Hill herd is managed at a population of less than 20 animals and is maintained for its interpretive and educational value. Open year round, the White Horse Hill wildlife drive and hiking trails allow visitors to explore the unique geology and diverse wildlife within the preserve. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded at White Horse Hill. Species most frequently detected in the woodland habitats include the red-eyed vireo, yellow warbler, common yellow throat, eastern wood peewee and ovenbird.

The Refuge’s wildlife community also contains many other species, including amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles and mammals; such as fox, raccoons, skunks, weasels, mink, fisher, gray and fox squirrels, muskrats, rabbits, woodchucks and prairie dogs. Bald and golden eagles can be spotted in the area during spring and fall migrations. White Horse Hill offers many opportunities for visitors to see and enjoy wildlife in a natural setting. Scenic overlooks offer panoramic views of Devils Lake and the city of Fort Totten. The White Horse Hill Visitor Center is open regular hours during the summer months and closed on federal holidays.

For a current schedule of activities and events visit White Horse Hill National Game Preserve on Facebook or the web. You may also call the Visitor Center at 701-766-4272 for a current recording of hours and scheduled events.

Sullys Hill was named after General Alfred Sully, a Civil War and Indian Wars military officer who gained notoriety for committing several massacres against Native Americans, including the most devastating massacres in North Dakota’s history.

In 2019 after the Spirit Lake Nation tribe requested it, the North Dakota congressional delegation introduced legislation to return the name of Sullys Hill to its historic Dakota name (Sunka Wakan Ska Pa Ha) which when translated into English is White Horse Hill. In December 2019 it became official, passed by Unanimous Consent in the U.S. Senate, Sullys Hill is now named White Horse Hill, reflecting a “positive experience to the Dakota people rather than being named for an individual who was destructive to the Dakota people and their culture.”

This article originally appeared on Devils Lake Journal: Check out these North Dakota travel destinations over the summer