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The Fort Union National Historic Site is located near the North Dakota – Montana state border, near the banks of the Missouri River. Book a motorhome rental near Williston, North Dakota, and you can spend days exploring the interesting spot. In its earlier days, the fort was one of the most profitable and important trading posts, trading cloth, guns, and other materials from all over the world for buffalo and small game furs. It was a fort in name only, having no army outpost or government connection, but rather a business that traded with as many as seven Native American nations, including the Assiniboine and Blackfeet. The fort was built in 1828 by the owner of the American Fur Company and continued operating until 1867, making it the longest operational trading post in western America.
The fort's commercial success created peace between the natives and the white settlers, and the fort became a beacon for scientists and artists who wanted to study and document the landscape and its residents. However, the increasing migration of Europeans into the area led to the construction of Fort Buford in 1866 by the U.S. Army, which purchased then dismantled Fort Union. The site was purchased in 1966 by the National Park Service, which rebuilt the fort using materials uncovered during archeological excavations as a blueprint for how the fort appeared.
This fortified site springs up from the sprawling North Dakota prairie, with rugged bluffs on its fringes. When you head here with a Williston rental camper, you can take a step through the fort's gates and experience this historic site nearly exactly as it was in the mid-1800s.
Once you've zoned in on one of the RV rentals in Williams County, you can begin the experience by taking a stroll along the Bodmer Overlook trail. This path is relatively easy with some uneven areas and a slight incline; it shouldn't be a difficult walk for most people, but you should prepare accordingly if you're here during the summer. The trail is not too long, and it ends at the spot where famed artist Karl Bodmer painted a landscape portrait of the area, which later became renowned.
The fort occasionally hosts events that celebrate the history and culture of the area from the perspectives of both the settlers and the area's first inhabitants. The events can include things such as lectures, displays of traditional crafts, music, singing, and dancing, and re-enactments of daily life and the fur trade industry.
When you rent an RV near Fort Union, you'll be a short distance from Fort Buford, which was also recognized as an important historical site, and the area between the two forts can provide a relaxing walk with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the Missouri River flowing before it. Also a short distance away is Lake Trenton Recreation Area and several urban parks just outside of the city of Williston. Lake Trenton has a boat dock and ramp, and fishing in the lake is allowed; the lake is open to the public seasonally, from approximately Memorial Day to Labor Day.
There isn't any camping available on the Fort Union Historic Site, but there are several campgrounds nearby, one of which is located at Lake Trenton. This RV park is open to the public seasonally, most likely following the same dates as the Lake Trenton Recreation Area. The campground has a basketball and volleyball court, a horseshoe pitch, and a miniature golf area. The individual campsites have electrical hookups, restrooms and showers, and sewage disposal. Some of the sites allow tent camping, as well.
Slightly farther south, Yellowstone Bridge RV Park is located a few minutes' drive from Fairview, Montana, and the Montana state border. The campground has trees that provide shade and shelter from the wind; it also has access to a boat ramp allowing you to go boating or fishing, trails where you can hike or mountain bike, and a frisbee golf course. The individual campsites have full hookups for your rental RV, and the park is close to several attractions such as the historic Fairview Bridge and the Cartwright Tunnel.
When you've wrapped up your outdoor adventures, fire up the motorhome rental and head to Williston, a short drive from Fort Union. The city is an economic and agricultural hub for the surrounding area. It has several important landmarks such as the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center, which has exhibits, a hiking trail, and picnic areas (it is the site visited by Lewis and Clark on their expedition). The town also has a statue of the historic Native American Sitting Bull, a public golf course, and an art studio where you can take lessons as well as browse its presentations. Williston's restaurant industry has several cuisines on hand, such as Mexican, Italian, Jamaican, Asian, and American, plus pubs and family restaurants.
Tioga is a small community with nightlife and a reasonable assortment of restaurants on hand, mostly serving American style food. It's a short distance from the town of Ray, which has a public golf course, a community recreation center, and a casino.