Located in northwest Minnesota, Buffalo River State Park features some of the largest prairies in the state. The prairie views are just incredible, where you can see the great big sky stretching on seemingly for miles. You’ll find acre after acre of grassland with more than 250 species of plants and wildflowers, many of them local to the region.
The park is also home to over a hundred species of birds that visit the park throughout the year. Come in the spring to see birds flock back to the park after winter. Or visit in the fall to witness rare species on their way south. Listen for the calls of bobolinks, marbled godwits, and upland sandpipers as you wander along the extensive network of hiking trails. If you want to learn more about the area's wildlife, check out the Minnesota State University Moorhead Regional Science Center, which is adjacent to the park. You can explore the wildlife exhibits or attend a star party at their observatory.
Buffalo River State Park offers plenty of aquatic recreation as well. The Buffalo River that runs through the park is populated with large channel catfish. Roll up your pants and wade into the river to try to reel in a trophy fish. With an on-site campground, you’ll have easy access to all the park has to offer. Whether you’re staying for a few days or a few weeks, you’ll find plenty to explore any time you take an RV trip to Buffalo River State Park.
Buffalo River State Park is located off of US-10 near the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. It's just 30 minutes from Fargo, North Dakota, and is within four hours of Minneapolis and Winnipeg. As you might imagine, this park of Minnesota is about flat as a pancake, so most roads are level and wide. Once inside the park, there is only one main road that takes you to the campground or the Trail Center and picnic area. This means that RVs or trailers will have no issues navigating in and around the park. Winters can be pretty brutal this far up north, so make sure you check the weather conditions if you're traveling during the snowy season.
The largest parking lot is in the center of the park within walking distance of the sledding hill, Trail Center, and picnic area. RV campers, of course, will find it easiest to park at their site. The main attractions of the park are pretty close together, so many points of interest are walkable.
If you want to stay for a few nights to really experience the raw beauty of the prairie grasslands, you can stay at one of the 35 electric sites at Buffalo River State Park Campground. You'll be covered by basic amenities since showers, flush toilets, and a dump station are available seasonally. You can cook and serve dinner easily since each site has a fire ring and picnic table.
Anglers and swimmers will especially love this campground since you'll be within walking distance of the River View Trail and the swimming pond. All of the campsites can be booked up to a year in advance. Two sites are ADA-accessible, and the max RV length is 60 feet. Most of the campground is open from April to October.
The campground is mostly closed during the winter, with only four sites available. The showers and toilets are also shut down. The four sites that are open during this time are first-come, first-served, so call before your visit to find out the status of the campsites.
If you are staying at the park with a large party, you can set up shop at the group camping site, which is open to pop-up campers and tents. While the group camping area is pretty rustic, vault toilets and potable water is available. Flush toilets and showers are available in the main campground. The group camping area is open from April to October.
If you can't snag a spot at Buffalo River State Park Campground, there are few nearby state parks that offer RV camping.
Maplewood State Park is an hour to the southeast, with 71 pet-friendly campsites, equestrian camping, and cabins. Just under two hours to the east, Huntersville State Forest features several rustic-style campgrounds and an equestrian campground.
Two hours to the west in North Dakota in the Sheyenne River Valley, you can find Fort Ransom State Park. This beautiful wooded park has four campgrounds, some of which feature sites with water and electric hookups.
Buffalo River State Park also offers excellent hiking for those who venture in the RV during the winter. Just make sure you are prepared for the snow by bringing a pair of snowshoes in the rig. You won't be limited to just a few trails since you can go snowshoeing anywhere in the park. Weave your way through the snowy forest of elm, oak, cottonwood, and ash trees. There’s plenty of wildlife for you to spot, even during winter, so keep your eye out for deer and moose. And you’ll find dozens of species of birds living in the forest. The park doesn’t offer rentals, so make sure you bring your own pair.
Come to the park in your RV during the winter to experience the prairies as they freeze over. The snowy trails become perfect for cross-country skiing. You’ll have miles of trails to take you through the wintry grasslands. Even during winter, there’s plenty of wildlife that calls the park home. You’ll often find deer running across the open fields. And if you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot a moose wandering through the park. Keep in mind that the trails are not groomed. If you are coming during a heavy storm, make sure you are an experienced skier.
The grasslands of the park are also home to over a hundred species of birds, making it an excellent destination for bird watchers of all experience levels. What you see will vary greatly by season. The spring and fall are the best times to see tree swallows, black-capped chickadees, black-and-white warblers, song sparrows, and eastern bluebirds. Come in winter for a chance to see the snowy owl or golden eagle. You can turn birding into a friendly competition with your family or friends by seeing who can check the most finds off the park's birding checklist.
The Buffalo River that winds through the park is often very narrow and rather shallow. However, don’t let that fool you. You can find excellent fishing, even when the temperature begins to drop.
The park is especially strong when it comes to channel catfish. And the shallow waters make it easy to wade into the stream and enjoy fishing knee-deep in water. The fishing tends to be best in the spring when water levels rise. But you’ll be able to find a wide variety of fish from April through October.
Tired after a long hike? Bring a bathing suit in the campervan and head to the beach area for a dive in refreshing waters. The swimming pond is entirely surrounded by a sand beach, giving you plenty of room to lay down and soak up the sun. There is a filtering system and a lifeguard on-site, so you won’t have to worry about safety with your kids. The swimming area is ADA-accessible with paved paths.
Buffalo River State Park has more prairie land than any other park in the state. And you’ll be able to discover it all with a vast network of trails. Explore the woodlands and enjoy the hundreds of species of local wildflowers. You’ll also find 40 species of mammals that call the park home, including red foxes, white-tailed deer, beaver, and moose. If you want to soak in the beauty of the water, try the River View Trail. For those who want to see the sky expand across the great prairies, head out on the Wide Sky Trail.
The park is truly a nature lover’s paradise and is an excellent destination for those that enjoy wildlife photography on their hikes. The hiking is excellent year-round but really shines in the spring and fall. The prairie comes to life in April as the wildflowers bloom, making it one of the most beautiful natural sights you’ll find in the state.