Spring in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

These Towns in North Dakota Come Alive in Spring

With temperatures rising, trees budding, and wildflowers blooming, North Dakota in the spring is a breath of fresh air, releasing locals from winter’s chills. And while the state’s busiest tourism happens in the summertime, spring brings its own thrills, with the perk of smaller, mellower crowds. Whether taking scenic drives through world-renowned wildlife areas like Theodore Roosevelt National Park or exploring one-of-a-kind attractions like the state’s only waterfall, North Dakotans have a ton to look forward to from March through May. From springtime festivals to road trips with quirky roadside attractions, here are seven North Dakota towns that blossom and come alive in the spring.


Two wild stallions at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
Two wild stallions at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

With a quaint population of just over 100 residents, it could be easy to underestimate the charms of small-town Medora. Yet, despite its quaint and quiet nature, Medora serves as a gateway to an outdoor attraction that draws nearly 600,000 visitors annually: Theodore Roosevelt National Park. With over 70,000 acres, 500 species of plants, and a plethora of roaming wildlife—including prairie dogs and bison—this national park is truly bucket list-worthy for nature lovers.

Springtime, in particular, is one of the best times to experience the park’s gorgeous landscapes. With children still in school, the crowds are relatively subdued compared to summertime, and the weather is milder as well. Late spring is also the time when wildflowers like the vibrant violet pasqueflower begin to bloom, adding a splash of color to the park. Whether exploring Theodore Roosevelt's historic Maltese Cross Cabin, embarking on the 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive for wildlife spotting, or hiking the Painted Canyon Nature Trail along the canyon rim, this National Park offers an unforgettable experience.

Fort Ransom

Sunrise at fort ransom state park.
Sunrise at Fort Ransom State Park.

With a population even smaller than Medora, Fort Ransom is another vibrant town where the outdoor attractions breathe life into the community. The highlight is definitely Fort Ransom State Park, accessible via the picturesque Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway. The route is especially enchanting during the spring, taking you past rolling hillsides dotted with budding trees and pastoral farm scenes.

Once at the park, visitors are greeted with a stunning natural landscape and an array of activities to enjoy in the warmer weather. Visitors can rent a kayak at the park’s headquarters to explore the perch-filled Sheyenne River, which is also known for its fishing and birdwatching. Alternatively, for those who prefer to stay on solid ground, the park offers endless trails through the forest and hillside, such as the Fort Ransom State Park Loop and the North Country National Scenic Trail. Beyond the park, Fort Ransom serves as the gateway to yet another breathtaking natural landmark: the only registered waterfall in the state. The trailhead to the 8-foot Mineral Springs Waterfall lies just 1-mile southeast of town, and while the hike itself covers around 2.2 miles, hikers unanimously agree that every step is worth it for the view.


The World's Largest Buffalo Monument, created by sculptor Elmer Petersen in 1959. Editorial credit: Ayman Haykal / Shutterstock.com
The World's Largest Buffalo Monument created by sculptor Elmer Petersen in 1959. Editorial credit: Ayman Haykal / Shutterstock.com

With spring tempting us with day trips and weekends away, why not visit a town whose record-breaking landmark has been a roadside attraction since 1959? When you Google “Jamestown, North Dakota,” images of the town's massive buffalo monument take center stage—it is, after all, the “World’s Largest Buffalo.” A cherished local landmark, the 60-ton sculpture was built to commemorate the area’s history with the American bison. It is a prominent roadside stop for tourists passing through, and you will definitely want to pause to snap a photo with the 26-foot triumph. Nearby, the National Buffalo Museum is another tourist hotspot celebrating this majestic national United States mammal.

If you are looking to turn a layover into an easygoing day of fun, picturesque Jamestown offers a variety of other attractions, like the Frontier Village Museum, Stutsman County Memorial Museum, and the Jamestown Reservoir. Covering 2,095 surface acres, the lake provides a scenic setting for picnicking, fishing, or strolling the 3 miles of paved walking trails. Across town, families can also enjoy Meidinger Park in the spring, its splash pad set to open in late May. Around that same time, Meidinger Park hosts its annual Kite Festival. This renowned event draws kite enthusiasts from all over the US, painting the skies with colorful windborne sails and captivating audiences with contests, kite-making workshops, and other demonstrations. All in all, Jamestown is a delightful little town perfect for a day of fun with the whole family.

Devils Lake

Devil's Lake in North Dakota, USA.
Devil's Lake in North Dakota, USA.

With a name like “Devils Lake,” one might not expect the heavenly nature that this charming North Dakota town has to offer. Despite its ominous name, the namesake lake stands as the focal point, renowned as the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. It is also one of the premier fishing lakes in the state. Grahams Island State Park is the ultimate spot to cast a line in this "Perch Capital of the World," but springtime is favored for walleye fishing since their season peaks from April through May.

Fishing guides like Bry's Guide Service ensure a seamless angling experience, providing everything from rods to tackle and even fish cleaning and packaging services. And for those uninterested in fishing, there are numerous other ways to relish in the beauty of Devils Lake. Grahams Island State Park boasts extensive hiking trails, including the scenic Sivert Thompson Loop. The 1.6-mile trail features stunning lake views and a glimpse at up to 130 different plant species. The beach is also a delightful stroll in the spring, free from the usual shoulder-to-shoulder summertime crowds.


Replica Cannon on the grounds of Fort Stevenson, Garrison, North Dakota
Replica Cannon on the grounds of Fort Stevenson, Garrison, North Dakota

Looking for lake adventures and great fishing spots this spring? Look no further than the underrated Garrison, known as the "Walleye Capital of the World." Visitors can snap a photo with Wally the Walleye, a 26-foot Walleye statue located at the end of Main Street in the City Park. But the true angler’s dream is at Fort Stevenson State Park, situated on the shores of Lake Sakakawea. There are two marinas at the park to take advantage of, but if you want a hassle-free fishing experience, consider booking a guided fishing trip with Bloemendaal Guide Service LLC.

For land lovers, the park has 10 miles of nature trails, including the 2-mile Northern Pine Loop and the 1-mile Purple Coneflower Loop, which features a fantastic overlook of De Trobriand Bay. Moreover, the park hosts a variety of family-friendly events in the spring, such as the Sky Fest kite festival. After a day of outdoor fun, families can also explore nearby educational attractions like the North Dakota Firefighters Museum & Hall of Fame or the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum.


Mystical Horizons near bottineau north dakota.
Mystical Horizons near Bottineau, North Dakota.

For nature lovers hoping to get outdoors this spring, the cozy town of Bottineau is an outdoor playground right in the foothills of the mighty Turtle Mountains. Just a few miles from town, the Turtle Mountain State Recreation Area boasts 12 miles of off-road driving trails as well as numerous hiking, biking, and horseback riding paths. Whether you trek to the Mystical Horizons Scenic Overlook or explore other trails in the Turtle Mountain State Forest’s over 7,500 acres, your time here guarantees adventure.

Another beloved destination for locals is Lake Metigoshe State Park, renowned as one of North Dakota's top getaway locations. Here, you can explore 13 miles of trails—including the Old Oak Trail, a National Recreation Trail—kayak or canoe Lake Metigoshe, and end your days sleeping under the stars at one of the park’s 84 modern campsites. Canoes and kayaks can be rented right in the park for $32 for half a day or $50 for a full day, life vests and paddles included. The 1,544-acre lake is also full of walleye and perch in the spring, with countless fishing docks surrounding the shores.


Cavalier Cinema, Cavalier, North Dakota.
Cavalier Cinema, Cavalier, North Dakota. Image credit Northernraider83, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is no secret that Cavalier is renowned for its vibrant summer events, such as the annual Motorcycle Ride In and the Off The Charts Music Festival. However, spring offers a more relaxed pace, making it a must-see town for visitors hoping to unwind. During this season, attractions like the Pembina County Historical Museum and the historic Cavalier Cinema can be savored without long lines, allowing the town to exude its quintessential small-town charm.

The Icelandic State Park, also free from summer crowds, truly blossoms in the spring, with paths like the Shady Spring Trail adorned with newly blooming wildflowers. As part of the Gunlogson Nature Preserve, the 200-acre woodland area meanders past the Tongue River, offering breathtaking sights. Alternatively, visitors may opt to wander the shores of Lake Renwick or indulge in picnics beneath the shaded oak trees. The 912-acre park also hosts an enlightening Pioneer Heritage Center and several historic buildings, including the Hallson Church, a structure with roots dating back to 1897.

Summertime in North Dakota may be the busiest season, but spring should by no means be overlooked. Events celebrating the warmer weather are in full swing this time of year, like free park days at Theodore Roosevelt National Park or kite festivals in Jamestown and Garrison. But no matter the day you choose to stop by this spring, any of these small towns have an attraction that will take your breath away. From vibrant wildflower trails to tranquil lake shores, this season presents the perfect opportunity to embrace the outdoors before the sweltering heat of summer sets in.

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