Smoky Lake Natural Area Offers Bird Watching and Hiking

Park Overview:


The Smoky Lake Natural Area lies immediately to the south of Smoky Lake in the north central North Dakota county of McHenry. Although the nearest major airport to the lake is the Minot International Airport in Minot, ND, which is approximately 60 miles to the east, there is a municipal airport in the city of Towner, ND. This is much closer to the lake at a distance of only about 20 miles to the north, or a driving distance of approximately one hour.

From the municipal airport in the city of Towner, which is the county seat of McHenry, you can get to the Smoky Lake Nature Preserve by getting on N Dakota 14 S, and turning left to US -2 E. Turn right into 12th Avenue NE, left to 60th Street NE, right to 13th Avenue NE, and left to 51st Street NE. Then take the first left on to 14th Avenue NE, and a final right turn will bring you to Smoky Lake.


Like the other nature preserves and natural areas in North Dakota, the Smoky Lake Natural Area offers neither amenities nor facilities. This is because its purpose is to preserve the location in its original condition.

There is, however, a two-track trail that traverses the northwest unit of the area allowing access to hikers, bird watchers, nature photographers, botanists, and zoologists who wish to explore. The other unit, the southeastern section, has very limited access. In fact, when the wetlands within the vicinity are swollen, the trails disappear altogether.


Hiking, bird watching, nature photography, and scientific research on the flora and fauna of the area are allowed. Further, the combined area of the northwestern and southeastern units of the Smoky Lake Natural Area adds up to 276 acres. These acres are host to woodlands, wetlands, and native prairies, all of which provide for a great hiking experience.

Plenty of trees and plants can be admired and photographed in the area. Among the many varieties are absinth wormwood, blue lettuce, cattails, daisy fleabane, fringed sagewort, green needlegrass quaking aspen, chokecherry, poison ivy, snowberry, and silverberry. However, animals and birds are not to be outdone. There are the horned lark, killdeer, least flycatcher, mallard, northern oriole, piping plover, red-winged blackbird, tree swallow, warbling vireo, and Wilson’s phalarope.

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Park Details:
Park Name: Smoky Lake Natural Area Showers: No
State Park: No Electrical Hookups: No
Address: Lake Metigoshe State Park

#2 Lake Metigoshe State Park

Playground: No
City: Bottineau Acreage: 276
State: North Dakota Horses Allowed: No
Zip Code: 58318 Picknicking: No
Phone Number: (701) 263-4562 Boating: No
Toll Free Number: Canoeing: No
Reservation Number: Water Skiing: No
Email Address: Fishing: No
RV Sites: No Swimming: No
Pets Allowed: No Restaurant: No
Hiking: Yes Reservations Allowed: No
Biking: No Others:
Cabins & Lodging: No Tent Camping: No


There is no admission fee into the Smoky Lake Natural Area

Hours and Seasons:

The area is open daily for the entire year.