Turtle River State Park Offers an Outdoor Adventure for Every Family Member
Turtle River State Park is located in Grand Forks County in northeastern North Dakota along the wooded banks of the Turtle River. It lies 22 miles west of the township of Grand Forks. From there, you can get to the park traveling about 15 miles along US-2 W within 20 minutes. As there is the Grand Forks International Airport, getting to the park is quick, unless you are traveling all the way by land in your RV.
If you are coming from Bismarck, you have to take Interstate 94 E, turn north to N Dakota 1, and pass by the towns of Cooperstown and Larimore. Once in Larimore, take N Dakota 18 N then turn right at US-2 E. The park is about six miles down the road.
The whole route will probably take you about four hours.
Turtle River State Park has a long history, being one of the parks constructed under the New Deal program of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of the organizations established under the program was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the members of which were to be given jobs.
In 1935, a number of CCC members were assigned to build the park, then called the Grand Forks State Park. They constructed bridges, footpaths, parking areas, roads, and even stone and log buildings including the Woodland Lodge, which was used as a dining hall, concessionaire’s area, and caretakers’ quarters. While many of the buildings survive to this day, the Woodland is not among them. It was damaged by floods in 2000, although it has since been reconstructed on higher ground.
They also built a fieldstone dam, bathhouse, and a swimming hole. The bathhouse has now become the CCC Memorial Picnic Center, but the swimming hole was closed for safety reasons.
Turtle River State Park has both primitive camping areas for the more adventurous types, and RV campgrounds with electric hookups for those who wish to enjoy the peace and quiet of the woods but still sleep in the comfort of their RVs. A playground is also available for the kiddies. Further, RV users can take advantage of the RV dump station.
There are also picnic shelters within the park. Three of these are small, while one, the Aggasiz Shelter, can hold 40 to 50 persons. There is also the huge CCC Memorial Center, which can accommodate as many as 300 people. Although the small shelters are on a first come first served basis, the Aggasiz and CCC Memorial can be reserved.
If sleeping in tents or RVs is not your cup of tea, you can always rent one of the 12 Woodland Cabins. Ten of the 12 have bunk beds for six guests, while the remaining two, which are designed for wheelchair-bound visitors, can accommodate three. The cabins are equipped with showers and toilets. However, no bedding is provided. Cooking is also not allowed inside, but there are picnic tables and grills nearby.
The Woodland Lodge is also available for rent to large groups. It has its own kitchen, complete with a fridge and stoves, and a dining area that can seat up to 100 people. An outside grill can also be rented for cookouts.
There is also a meeting area in the second floor of the park’s Chalet that can accommodate 50 people. It has a fireplace, tables and chairs, as well as an equipped kitchen. However, if you want a classroom style meeting area, you can use the Visitor Center Classroom. It is equipped with AV system and white boards for lectures.
In addition to camping and picnicking, Turtle River State Park also offers a system of trails for hiking and mountain biking. Further, in winter, there is a 7.5-mile long groomed cross-country skiing trail. There are also areas for sledding and snowshoeing. Along the trails, you will find plenty of plants and abundant animal life. You can also trek along wooded areas, open prairies, or wetlands.
You will often encounter small animals like beavers, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and woodchucks; and, occasionally, big animals like deer and moose. In the wetlands, you can find bitterns, blue herons, and terns.
View Larger Map
Directions: Take Highway 2 and head west of Grand Forks. Travel about 22 miles and you’ll soon be past the gates of Turtle River State Park
|Park Name:||Turtle River State Park||Showers:||Yes|
|State Park:||Yes||Electrical Hookups:||Yes|
|Address:||3084 Park Avenue||Playground:||Yes|
|State:||North Dakota||Horses Allowed:||No|
|Phone Number:||(701) 591-4445||Boating:||No|
|Toll Free Number:||Canoeing:||No|
|Reservation Number:||Water Skiing:||No|
|Biking:||Yes||Others:||12 cabins and 125 campsites|
|Cabins & Lodging:||Yes||Tent Camping:||Yes|
The park charges a $5 entry fee per vehicle but a year-round pass can be purchased for $25. Primitive camping costs $12 while RVs requesting electric hookup are charged $15.
The price of the Woodland Cabins is $45 a night, while the Woodland Lodge is rented out at $250 per day. The upstairs of the Chalet costs $75, and the Visitor Center Classroom is priced at $50, both daily.
Hours and Seasons:
Turtle River State Park is open for the entire year.