Mel Rieman Recreational Area – Lake Ashtabula Summer Retreat

Lake Ashtabula, North Dakota.

On our second stop along the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway, we find ourselves at the Mel Rieman Campground and Recreation Area. See the blue arrow on the map below for our location. This beautiful campground isn’t huge, only 70 acres, and it’s only open during the summer season. This year, the season is from May 1 through September 30, 2017. In the short season, however, there are plenty of things to do. There is a visitor center, playground, picnic facility, a boat ramp and fishing facilities.

Though the recreation area is small, the 3,000 acres around the lake is a wildlife habitat managed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The entire area is open to birding, hiking, hunting and fishing. Fishing licenses are available through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department or from vendors. Hunting licenses are required, unless, of course like me, your plan is to shoot only photographs.

The campground has 27 campsites, about half of them with electrical hookups. The sites are on the southeastern perimeter of the lake and provide opportunities for great sunset photos. Our visit this day was around 8 AM, so you’ll note the shadows are from the east on a beautiful spring morning. The swing in the photo above is no doubt a great place to watch the boats return to shore as the sun sets.

At the entrance to the recreation area, there was a welcoming committee of one. I’m sure he spends pretty much all of his time welcoming guests to the park.

Next week, for Travel Tuesday, we take a break from our trek down the scenic byway to feature a spectacular old steam engine.  Our next stop on the byway will be the Baldhill Dam, posted in a couple of weeks or so. The view of Lake Ashtabula, below, is possible only because of the dam that created the lake and this beautiful recreation area resource.

This post is being published as we enjoy our Steiner Family Reunion in Albuquerque. Rest assured, on our way there and back, we are stopping to gather more Roadside Americana to share with you here.

John Steiner




  1. You’re getting good at nature photography! Look forward to the continuing journeys. ND is a pretty big state, and what other state contains the geographical center of N America? None, exactly. Take that Minnesota, put that in your lake & sink it.

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