With over a million acres of land stretching along the Missouri River, Little Missouri National Grassland has some of the most scenic views in North Dakota. Situated in the middle of the badlands, the area has miles of rolling prairies with dozens of multi-use trails. You can hike during the spring and enjoy the blooming wildflowers, or visit during the winter and use the trails for cross-country skiing.
You’ll also find plenty to do out on the water. Sather Lake has excellent crappie, trout, and bass fishing, and can also be fished during the winter when the lake freezes over. You can also kayak and canoe along the shaded shores of the lake to get away from the heat during the summer. Most of the grasslands are open to hunting, where you’ll find large populations of deer.
There are four main RV campgrounds in the grasslands, each of them offering their own unique camping experience. Stay at Sather Lake Recreation Area for some of the best fishing you’ll find in the forest. Or stay at CCC Campground, where you’ll have access to a number of the most popular hiking trails in the area. Read on for details on three of the top RV campgrounds.
Located in the northern corner of North Dakota, Little Missouri National Grassland is a remote nature reserve. Although the area itself is fairly easy to navigate, the grasslands aren’t near many major cities, so it can take a while to get there by car or RV.
If you are coming from Bismarck, take US-83 out of the city to ND-23, and you’ll arrive in just over three hours. From Fargo, take ND-23 and you’ll get to the grasslands in just under six hours.
Little Missouri Grassland is a large area, stretching over one million acres. There aren’t many roads that go through the area, although you can reach most of the main RV campgrounds by taking county roads. However, you may have to drive along some dirt roads to get to remote areas of the grasslands. Situated along the Missouri River, there is sometimes flooding in the area after heavy rain storms, so drive with caution if you are camping near the river.
This campground has 36 sites, none of which have hookups of any kind. All of the sites have a picnic table and a fire ring, and you’ll be within walking distance of vault toilets and drinking water. Flush restrooms are open during the summer. You’ll be near a number of hiking trails, as well as the Buffalo Gap lookout point. The campground does not accept reservations, and tends to get quite busy during the summer season. Try to arrive early if you plan on visiting during peak season. RVs and campers up to 60 feet long are welcome. Trailers can park in the day-use area.
Located on the shores of Sather Lake, this campground is one of the best options if you’re interested in boating and fishing. There are 18 sites, all of which have a fire ring and a picnic table. None of the sites have hookups, but you’ll have access to water pumps and vault toilets. There is a fishing pier and a boat launch at the edge of the campground, as well as a number of hiking loops. The campground is quite popular during the summer, and the sites tend to fill up quickly. The sites are first-come, first-served, so arrive early if you plan on getting a spot.
With 38 sites, this is one of the largest campgrounds in the area. Recently remodeled, it’s a popular starting point for hikers who come to the grasslands, with a number of trails that connect directly to the campground. None of the sites have hookups of any kind, although they do have picnic tables and fire rings with a grill. Drinking water is available from pumps within the campground, as well as vault toilets. RVs, trailers, and campers up to 60 feet long are welcome.
With over a million acres, Little Missouri National Grassland has a lot of ground for you to cover. There are hiking trails leading off from most of the main RV campground, making it easy to get to a trail without having to drive far. Maah Daah Hey Trail is one of the most popular in the area, and can be accessed from CCC Campground.
Hiking tends to be best during the spring and fall, when temperatures are mild and the grasslands are shrouded in colors. If you visit during spring, you can hike through fields blanketed in wildflowers.
If you’re tired out from hiking, you can head your campervan to one of the lakes on the grasslands. There are a number of bodies of water in grasslands, including Sather Lake Recreation Area, one of the most popular campgrounds in the area. There is a boat launch just outside of the RV campground by the lake. The campground does not rent boats, so make sure you bring along your own vessel with your rig.
RV campers interested in angling will also find a number of fishing opportunities in the grasslands. Crappie, trout, and bass are the most popular catches, as well as a number of other species throughout the year. Sather Lake is the main fishing destination in the area, although you’ll also find a number of smaller lakes and streams throughout the grasslands.
Most of the grasslands are open to hunting, with a wide range of big and small game species. Elk and deer are the two most popular game species in the area, and you can also hunt for a range of small game and waterfowl. Take caution while hunting, as there are a number of hiking trails that cross through the grasslands. There are also private plots of lands in the area, so make sure not to trespass.
If you visit in your camping trailer during the winter, head out onto the frozen waters for ice fishing. Many of the fish species are active throughout the year, so you’ll be able to fish as the temperature drops. Trout, bluegill, crappie, and bass can all be caught. Forest officials do not guarantee the safety of the ice, so head out onto any of the lakes at your own peril. Check up to date ice conditions to make sure that the lakes are safe before fishing.
The wide expanses of the grasslands turn into the perfect cross-country skiing course when snow begins to fall. The area is fairly remote, and few of the trails are regularly groomed during the winter. Although there are trails that will suit beginners, the going may be tough after a heavy snow storm. Rentals are not offered by any of the forest offices, so bring all of the gear you need along with your rig.