The Missouri River is the longest river in the United States stretching 2,341 miles across Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Its floodplain has long supported diverse animal and plant species, including rare trees and shrubs. Along its banks, on the east side of Mandan in North Dakota, an area measuring 157 acres has been set aside by the state government with the intention of preserving the place in its primeval and pristine condition.
From Bismarck, the Missouri River Natural Area is only about five miles, or 10 minutes, to the northeast. Driving along I-94 W from the state capital, take Exit 153 in Mandan. You will find the trailhead of the natural area close to the intersection of Division St. NE, Missouri Dr. NE, and River Dr. NE, where you can begin your exploration.
The Missouri River Natural Area is intended to be an illustration of a natural environment that is unsullied by man; hence, outside of the trails, you will find very little evidence of human occupation.
There are three hiking trails inside the area — Fishing Loop, Dogwood Loop, and Bridge Loop. All three are single-track trails.
No other amenities or services are available.
Hiking and mountain biking are allowed within the Missouri River Natural Area. In winter, the trails can also be used as a cross-country skiing area. Camping, however, is not allowed. Campfires, likewise, are strictly prohibited.
While hiking on the grounds, bird watchers can have fun identifying the various bird and fowl species that fly in the forest. These include bald eagles, Canada geese, owls, woodpeckers, wild turkey, and different kinds of songbirds.
Nature photographers can try to get close to the white tail deer, fox, raccoon, and squirrels for a true close-up shot. Even if they are not lucky enough to spot the birds or animals, there is always the rare peach leaf willow, as well as the cottonwood and green ash trees. And, of course, the scenic views of the river and the forest are stunning.
Although dubbed “The Car Bodies”, perhaps because the natural area is owned by the North Dakota Highway Department, motor vehicles are banned from entering the place.
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|Park Name:||Missouri River Natural Area||Showers:||No|
|State Park:||No||Electrical Hookups:||No|
|Address:||Fort Lincoln State Park
4480 Fort Lincoln Road
|State:||North Dakota||Horses Allowed:||No|
|Phone Number:||(701) 667-6340||Boating:||No|
|Toll Free Number:||Canoeing:||No|
|Reservation Number:||Water Skiing:||No|
|Cabins & Lodging:||No||Tent Camping:||No|
Missouri River Natural Area is open to the public free of charge.
Hours and Seasons:
Open for the whole year, but in the daytime only.