The Best Winter Activities in North Dakota

By Jane Olcott , last updated December 21, 2011

North Dakota is known for its beautiful scenery and its cold winters. With below freezing temperatures in the winter months, North Dakota is a great place to enjoy some of the best winter activities in the country. North Dakota is located in the midwestern United States and is bordered by Canada to the north. Its geographic location gives it a semi-arid climate with low temperatures that lends itself to having a deep snowpack in the winter months. North Dakota is also the 19th largest state, with vast open spaces that are ideal for winter activities. If you need a little fun to lighten the dark winter months, then look no further than the following best winter activities in North Dakota.


Snowshoeing is one of the best and most affordable winter activities in North Dakota. North Dakota is home to a vast network of snowshoeing trails. One of the most exciting snowshoeing treks will take you right through the heart of the Badlands of North Dakota. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even venture off-trail for some excellent backwoods snowshoeing. Snowshoeing equipment is also pretty easy to come by in North Dakota. Most of the major cities, including Bismarck and Fargo, have local sports stores with snowshoeing equipment available for purchase or rental at reasonable prices. If snowshoeing the Badlands is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other trails to explore in North Dakota’s parks. Fort Ransom State Park and Lewis and Clark State Park have some of the best snowshoeing trails in the state. Make sure you call ahead for current trail conditions before hitting the road!

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is one of the best ways to enjoy the winter in North Dakota. Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed along a number of designated trails in North Dakota. In addition to designated trails, there is plenty of open space for the cross-country skier to explore. Before going off trail, make sure you have a compass and a map on-hand. With a few precautions, you can enjoy the wilds of North Dakota and catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife. Going off-trail in North Dakota may give you an opportunity to see elk, moose, deer and maybe even a bear or wolf. Turtle River State Park offers some lovely cross-country skiing trails.

Downhill Skiing

If cross-country skiing is too slow, then you may want to give downhill skiing in North Dakota a try. There are four prominent downhill skiing resorts available to the winter sports enthusiast. Bear’s Down Mountain is a downhill ski resort located in Fort Ransom, North Dakota. Bear’s Down has a chairlift and T-bar lift and is a great place to learn how to ski. Frost Fire Ski and Snowboard Area is another downhill ski resort located at the Canadian border in Walhalla, North Dakota. Frost Fire Ski Area is known for having some of the best snow in the state. Huff Hills in Mandan, and Bottineau Winter Park in Bottineau, round out the downhill ski resorts that are available for some of the best winter activities in North Dakota.

Dog Sledding

Some of the best dog sledding in the United States is in North Dakota. Binford, North Dakota is home to Prairie Isle Dog Trekking. Prairie Isle Dog Trekking will teach you everything you need to know about dog sledding, while giving you first-hand experience driving your own team of dogs. Prairie Isle will teach you the history of dog sledding, which dates back to dog teams hauling freight in the 1800’s. Once you are given an introductory background in freight dog sledding, Prairie Isle Dog Trekking will teach you all about the equipment, the training of the dogs, and the nutritional needs of the dogs. Whether you are new to dog sledding or more experienced, North Dakota has the terrain and resources to ensure you enjoy one of the best winter activities in the area.

Ice Fishing

North Dakota is home to Devils Lake, which is considered to be one of the best places in the country for ice fishing. North Dakota’s lakes and rivers are home to northern pike, yellow perch and walleye. In addition to Devils Lake, amazing ice fishing opportunities can be found at Lake Metigoshe State Park, Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon. While the cold and ice of North Dakota may be intimidating to some, it creates the perfect conditions for some of the best ice fishing in North America.

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