A short, 20-minute drive from our home in Fargo, North Dakota is a 1,355 acre (5.5 sq. km) park that attracts almost 100,000 visitors a year. After the retreat of a glacial lake, the highly fertile lake bottom soil remained and much of the landscape became prairie grassland. The Buffalo River and its treelined plain winds its way through the prairie grass. The park, with it’s short and easy hiking trails and a public swimming pond, is a popular attraction.
A one-mile (1.6 km) interpretive trail and 12 miles (19.3 km) of easy hiking trails provide views of prairie grassland, forests and the winding river. In the winter, cross-country skiers and snowshoers are welcome in the park that’s open year round. Camping is available and most sites have electric hookups. Campers best call ahead and reserve a space as the sites are often filled.
Just north of the park, the Buffalo River Regional Science Center facility is a nearby attraction. This view of the Science Center that is just over the hill was taken from the Wide Sky Trail that eventually leads to the center. From there, the trail joins the River View Trail that meanders alongside the river.
The River View Trail is cut through the trees along the river’s edge. Views of the river are captured from short paths that lead from the trail to the riverbank. We didn’t run into any hikers on our 2-mile (3.2 km) hike, but that’s not to say the park wasn’t busy. Most of the people in the park were taking advantage of the swimming pond or using the picnic area. We stopped at the main entrance to pay the $5 U.S. day permit. Our only other fee option is a $25 U.S. annual pass. Once we paid the fee, we discovered that we couldn’t just enter the park. The single parking area was full so we (and the five vehicles ahead of us) had to wait by the entrance until others left the park. After only about 15 minutes, it was our turn to enter the park. We found the one open parking space in the lot and prepared to explore.
The trail alternated between broken pavement, mown prairie grass and dirt, but was mostly flat and level. The breeze was relatively strong on this day so we weren’t bothered by mosquitos or gnats. However I recommend a good dose of insect repellent, especially around the shoes and lower pant legs. Ticks are a common problem and Lyme disease is something to be avoided. Be sure kids and dogs are thoroughly checked for “hitchhikers” after spending a day on the trail.
I submit for your approval a gallery of images taken on a breezy summer day in the park. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.