Cross Ranch State Park RV & Campground Guide

North Dakota

In the 1800s, A.G. Gaines, a scout and land agent for the Burlington Northern Railroad, had amassed 11,000 acres in North Dakota that he worked as a ranch in the area that is now known as Cross Ranch State Park. He donated the land to the Nature Conservatory, which, in turn, gave a parcel of the land to the state to develop an outdoor recreation area in 1982. Today, the park is a popular destination for hiking, winter sports, and boating and fishing on the Missouri River.

Nearby cities:

  • Bismark, North Dakota

  • New Salem, North Dakota

  • Mandan, North Dakota

  • Harmon, North Dakota

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Spring 18-69 F
Summer 52-84 F
Fall 20-73 F
Winter 2-28 F
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Cross Ranch State Park

Campground Accommodations

Cross Ranch State Park Campground

  • Water hookup: Yes

  • Electrical hookup: Yes

  • Sewer hookup: No

  • Wi-Fi: No

  • Pet-friendly: Yes

  • Max RV length: 35 feet

  • Other amenities: Picnic tables, showers, fire rings, grills

Bismarck KOA Journey

The Bismarck KOA Journey is near the ND Heritage Center & State Museum. You’re also near Historic Village, where you can see how life was lived in the early 1900’s, and to General George Custer’s home at Fort Abraham Lincoln. 

  • Water hookup: yes

  • Electrical hookup: yes

  • Sewer hookup: yes

  • Wi-Fi: yes

  • Pet friendly: yes

  • Other amenities: pool, showers, laundry, bike rentals

Hillcrest Acres RV Park

Hillcrest Acres in Bismarck is a good place to make your basecamp while you explore Cross Ranch State Park and other nearby sites. 

  • Water hookup: yes

  • Electrical hookup: yes

  • Sewer hookup: yes

  • Wi-Fi: yes

  • Pet friendly: yes

  • Other amenities: N/A

RV Rentals Near Cross Ranch State Park

Nearby RV Rentals


What to Do at
Cross Ranch State Park

Most people go to Cross Ranch State Park to go hiking along the Missouri River. This park also features a boat launch to access the water for kayakers and those who enjoy canoeing. The landscape in the park has not changed much since the famous scouts Lewis and Clark passed through the area on their way to the Pacific coast. While exploring, you will experience pristine prairies, river bluffs, and enchanting meadows.

Inside Cross Ranch State Park

There are lots of things to do at Cross Ranch State Park. Explore the history of the area and the plants and animals that make their home in the park. 

Hiking: More than 16 miles of trails wind through the park, which is one of the few areas in North Dakota that offers a true primitive outdoor experience. Trails range from 2-5 miles and lead you near rivers or through native prairies. 

Boating: There is a one-lane boat ramp and dock that allows boaters access to the Missouri River. Head out for some paddling or try your hand at fishing. You can also rent canoes and kayaks at the park.

Fishing: While boating on the Missouri River or fishing from shore, you may catch catfish, Northern pike, trout, or walleye. 

Birding: There is a birding checklist available for the park. If you’re going to watch for birds, be sure to listen and move carefully - experienced birders travel less than a mile per hour on foot. Watch for signs of alarm in birds - a freeze in their posture, a cocked head, a partial raising of their wings - so you can stop moving until the bird calms down. Be sure to bring binoculars and a notebook to record your findings!

Fishing Fishing

Angling for catfish, Northern trout, rainbow trout, and walleye in the Missouri River is popular during the warmer months. You can fish from the shore, a boat, or from the park's fishing dock. The best fishing is often in April, May, August, and September.

Nature Watching Nature Watching

Over 182 bird species have been spotted at Cross Ranch State Park. Canadian geese, morning doves, and numerous species of songbirds are abundant throughout the spring and summer. In the fall, most birds fly south as temperatures begin to drop. You may also see bison at the park. Officials with the Nature Conservatory, who operate the Cross Ranch Preserve adjacent to the park, reintroduced them to the area in the early 1990s.

Stargazing Stargazing

Cross Ranch State Park is an excellent place for stargazing because of its remote location. The nearest city is Center, North Dakota, which has a population of about 600 and is the only city in Oliver County. It is over 30 minutes away, so there is very little light pollution. You can set up a telescope at one of the picnic tables or bring a blanket down to the water to enjoy an evening of viewing the heavens.

Flora and Fauna

Park officials have made great efforts to return Cross Ranch State Park to its native state so that you will see lots of tall prairie grass. During winter, you may see Western wheatgrass poking through the snow. In the spring and summer, Junegrass, green needlegrass, and switchgrass are prevalent. This park can also be a terrific place to see North Dakota wildflowers blooming in the spring and summer.

Hiking Hiking

The 5.2-mile-long Ma-ak-oti Trail is a fantastic place to go hiking. This loop trail divides into two parts, with the Upper Ma-ak-oti Trail offering incredibly stunning views of the Missouri River as it wanders through wooded channels along the waterway. The Lower Ma-ak-oti Trail is a terrific place for a springtime hike when the wildflowers bloom because it passes along prairie bluffs. Alternatively, The 2.2-mile Levis Trail takes you by the Garrison Dam and is groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing. If you visit once the snow falls and do not have your own, you can rent snowshoes or skis at the park office.


There is a boat launch, and kayaks and canoes are available for rent at the park. For $30, park employees will provide transportation back to its campground for boaters who choose to paddle down the Missouri River to the Sanger Boat Ramp.

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How to Get to
Cross Ranch State Park

You can get to Cross Ranch State Park from Center, North Dakota, by heading northwest on North Dakota 48. Turn right on North Dakota 200 Alternate in 9.6 miles. Then, turn right again on 28 Avenue Southwest in 10.1 miles. In 0.6 miles, turn left on 11th Street Southwest. In about 0.6 miles, bear right to get on North Dakota 1806. Follow this road for about four miles, and you will see the park on your left.

Entering Cross Ranch State Park

Parking is available at the park office and near the boat launch. All North Dakota state parks charge a $7 per vehicle entrance fee, or you can get an annual pass for $35.

Cross Ranch State Park Per Vehicle : $7.0

The park is an excellent destination for those who love the water. It also offers plenty of adventures for those who want to experience North Dakota's stunning outdoors on land.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cross Ranch State Park

What is the best time of year to visit Cross Ranch State Park?

The park is open year-round and offers activities for any season. Cross-country skis and snowshoes are available to rent at the park's office during winter, and you can get kayaks and canoes in the warmer months.

What kind of wildlife can be found in Cross Ranch State Park?

Cross Ranch State Park is a fantastic place to go birding, as over 180 species of birds have been spotted at this state park. You may also see bison, deer, and numerous small mammals.

Are there designated RV camping spots in Cross Ranch State Park?

There are RV camping spots at Cross Ranch State Park. Most of the campsites have electrical hookups. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and nearby restrooms.

Do you have to reserve a camping spot at Cross Ranch State Park and what is the cost?

Reservations are not always required at Cross Ranch State Park, but park officials highly recommend them. You can make your reservations up to 95 days in advance. Primitive campsites are $17 a night, and spots with electric hookups are $25 nightly.

Are pets allowed at Cross Ranch State Park?

Pets on a leash are allowed at Cross Ranch State Park but not in the park's buildings. You are expected to clean up after your furry companions.