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Knife River Indian Villages is a National Historic Site that was once home to five earth lodge villages belonging to two native tribes, the Mandan and the Hidatsa. These villages were discovered by the explorers Lewis and Clark during their expedition to find a water route from the east to the Pacific Ocean. While residing with the tribes, the expedition built Fort Mandan to have a winter refuge. After returning to the area in the summer of 1806, Lewis and Clark used the trust they had previously gained trading with the tribes to convince one of the chiefs, Mandan Chief Shekeke, to attend a meeting with then-President Thomas Jefferson.
When you visit this historic site with your Stanton camper rental, you can see two of the five original villages, which are a strong representation of the lifestyles of the tribes; like many native tribes, the Mandan and Hidatsa hunted, but they were also farmers and were not nomadic like other tribes. Their earth lodges were built from timber and earth to house large groups and were owned by the women of the tribes. The structures were arranged with bedding around the inside perimeter and a fire in the center, with a hole in the ceiling to allow smoke to escape. The rain was kept out by fitting a bull boat over the hole, propped up so that smoke could still exit.
Search for an RV in Mercer County, and you can choose a rig that suits your needs. Don't forget to take it for a spin to experience why RV camping is so popular (driving one is just one of the perks). Depending on how much time you plan on spending here with your Stanton motorhome rental, you'll want to be selective about the activities on hand as there are quite a few. Upon arriving at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, you can view the orientation film about one of the area's more famous residents, known as the Buffalo Bird Woman, and peruse the museum with exhibits and artifacts that have been discovered and Northern Plains Indians decorative art.
Hiking is also a strong option when you book a motorhome rental near Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, with trails leading to several villages. Some of the trails pass through prairie and bottomland forest regions, while some offer views of the Knife and Missouri rivers. If you enjoy birding, you can keep watch for some of the resident bird species while hiking the trails; the on-site visitors center has a checklist of the bird species you can watch out for, including raptors, thrushes, warblers, waterfowl, and others. Fishing is allowed in the Knife River, which passes through the site, and the Missouri River, which passes just along the site's border. Some of the fish species on hand are northern pike, walleye, catfish, and trout, just to name a few.
The Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is open to the public year-round while the visitor center and earth lodges are open daily during regular business hours, excluding some holidays. The Indian Villages are not too far from another historical site worth visiting, the Fort Clark State Historic Site, which was where smallpox and cholera epidemics almost wiped out two Indian villages, the Arikara and the Mandan.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site doesn't have any on-site camping facilities, but there is a good selection of RV campgrounds within a reasonable distance. Sakakawea Park Campground, near the town of Stanton, is a basic RV park with primitive camping sites and sites with electric hookups, plus restrooms with showers and potable water stations throughout. Within Stanton, you'll find hiking trails that double as cross-country skiing trails in the winter.
Lewis and Clark State Park is located on Lake Sakakawea and has camping facilities with full hookup, partial hookup (electrical and water), and primitive campsites up for grabs. From the campground, you'll have access to a swimming beach, kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals, trails for hiking, a marina, and much more. The scenery from the campground includes rolling hills with the occasional towering butte, and exquisite sunrises and sunsets. Combine this with a home-cooked meal prepared in your motorhome rental, and you'll have the perfect vacation.
Hazen is a small but friendly community with an active arts scene that includes a community theater and summer outdoor concerts. It's also a good destination for enjoying both indoor and outdoor sports, such as biking and walking trails, a skateboard park, camping, and sailing. The town's restaurant scene includes steakhouses and pizzerias, cafes and sports bars, and diners and family restaurants. Most of the outlets serve traditional American food, but there are a few other cuisines on hand.
Beulah is also a quiet village with a handful of restaurants (and more options slightly farther away). There are a few commercial chain type eateries here, but most of the venues are locally owned and operated.