Cross Ranch State Park, located in Hensler, North Dakota along the Missouri River, sits next to some of the only underdeveloped areas of the Missouri River. Miles of prairie land juxtaposed with meandering stretches of river create an atmosphere that mimics what life was like for the North Dakota homesteaders hundreds of years ago. This untouched feeling makes RV camping even more desirable for people who crave the sense of isolation but still need to have modern conveniences close by.
Summer and winter recreation brings guests to Cross Ranch State Park year-round. The park’s trail system is extensive and well-marked. Visitors who like to hike, bike, snowshoe, and cross country ski have plenty of scenic trails to choose from no matter what time of year they want to come and stay.
If outdoor recreation is your thing, but you prefer to be on the water instead of the land, you will have plenty of opportunities for a spectacular time on the Missouri River. Bring your boats or rent kayaks and canoes from the park, and see the land from a different perspective. Boaters can float the river in search of wildlife, or paddle the waters for exercise. Cross Ranch State Park is the perfect location for RV camping because the recreation ties the serenity of the camping experiences together into one amazing adventure.
RV Rentals in Cross Ranch State Park
Transportation in Cross Ranch State Park
Cross Ranch State Park is 43 miles northwest of Bismarck, and 78 miles south of Minot, North Dakota.
If you are coming from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Cross Ranch is only 148 miles northeast.
All vehicles entering a North Dakota state park must purchase a daily vehicle permit. Permits must be displayed on your vehicles at all times while staying in the park.
Campgrounds and parking in Cross Ranch State Park
Campsites in Cross Ranch State Park
Governor's Centennial Loop Campground
The Governor's Centennial Loop Campground is a seasonally-operating, pet-friendly campground. This campground has both pull through and back in sites with electric. Some of the spaces are set up for single-family camping, while other areas are designated group camping. The gravel driveways vary in size in length and width. Some sites accommodate slides, while others do not. The largest space can accommodate two RVs or 150 feet. All of the sites have 20, 30, and 50 amp electrical hookups as well as a picnic table and fire ring with a grill. The campground has vault toilets, an amphitheater, and a playground. The Park Office, a comfort station, and a dump station are all close by. Quiet hours are between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am. During the winter, the park may approve overnight generator use. Campers who wish to stay during the winter should contact the park and inquire if winter camping is allowed during your intended stay.
The Sanger Campground
The Sanger Campground is a pet-friendly campground located along the Missouri River. All of the sites are back in gravel sites with 20 and 30 amp electrical service. Each space has a picnic table with a fire ring with a grill. This campground has a boat ramp and a vault toilet, but no other amenities. Quiet hours are between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am. During the winter, the park may approve overnight generator use. Campers who wish to stay during the winter should contact the park and inquire if winter camping is allowed during your intended stay.
The Primitive Campground
Campers who wish to camp in smaller, primitive style campsites can choose one of the RV spaces in the Primitive Campground. This campground is pet-friendly, and the RV spaces are scattered between tipis and yurts. All of the sites are back in and grass, located next to the Missouri River. The only amenities in the campground are vault toilets. Quiet hours are between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am. During the winter, the park may approve overnight generator use. Campers who wish to stay during the winter should contact the park and inquire if winter camping is allowed during your intended stay.
Seasonal activities in Cross Ranch State Park
Come to the park and decide what you want to do once you get here! No matter the time of year, you can rent equipment from the Park Office to have a day of fun on the water or in the snow. During the warmer months, the park rents kayaks and canoes by the hour or the day, and in the winter, guests can rent snowshoes or cross country skis by the day. Bring everything you need but the boat, the shoes, or the skis, and let the park prepare the rest for you!
Anglers in search of the perfect catch can use the park’s boat ramp and head into the Missouri River for a day of fishing. In the sections of river closest to Cross Ranch State Park, anglers have caught catfish, trout, walleye, and northern pike. If you don’t have your own fishing boat, rent a canoe or kayak and see if you can catch a fish while floating. Anglers who want to fish will need to bring their own fishing equipment and have a valid fishing license if they are 16 years or older.
Bring your outdoor gear and head outside to experience one of the park’s 16 miles of trails. The well-marked trails have posted signage along each path to provide hikers, bikers, snowshoers, and cross country skiers the navigational information they might need while out on the trails. Many of the park’s trails are multi-use trails, and people must be aware at all times and share the path with others. If you plan on spending time out in nature, pick up a paper map at the entrance of the park, or ask a member of the park staff for more trail information.
The Lewis and Clark Connection
North Dakota is known for its connection to the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lewis and Clark didn’t stay at Cross Ranch State Park, but they did winter a few miles away, upstream. Cross Ranch State Park is one of the few locations in the state that still sits along underdeveloped areas of the Missouri River. Because of the isolation, the park still calls itself a Lewis and Clark location because visitors can feel what it was like hundreds of years ago when the landscape was desolate, and Native Americans lived off the land. Visitors can glimpse back in time and imagine what it was like for Lewis and Clark walking along the Missouri River on their way to the Pacific coast. For information on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, stop by the Park Office and ask about Cross Ranch’s connection to the famous duo.
Whether you are an experienced geocacher or someone who would like to see what an electronic scavenger hunt is like, you will have a blast searching for hidden treasure at Cross Ranch State Park. The staff places authorized geocaches in different park areas, and cachers will use their handheld GPS devices to search for the treasure. This park is unique because it rents GPS units to park guests. If you are interested in trying a new and fun way to look for treasure, stop by the Park Office and ask about geocaching.
Bring your binoculars and pick up a Cross Ranch State Park Bird Checklist at the Park Office. This park is known for its large bird population, and it is a desirable birdwatching location for experienced and novice birdwatchers. If you aren't an experienced birder but want to give birdwatching a try, ask a park ranger for help knowing what to look for. In Cross Ranch State Park, songbirds are easiest to spot before sunset and after dawn. If you want to see an eagle, vulture, or hawk, then set up your birdwatching station in the midday. For more information on the park’s birds, ask a Park Ranger or visit the Park Office.