U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Sheyenne National Grassland

North Dakota



Custom Search

Forest Information

The Sheyenne National Grassland (NG) located in the southeast corner of North Dakota and one of four grasslands in the Dakota Prairie Grassland, is 70,268 acres - see map below. The grassland is administered by Dakota Prairie Grasslands office. There is one developed campground which meets the selection criteria.

Like most of North Dakota, the Sheyenne National Grassland was shaped by glaciers over 10,000 years ago. As the ice melted and the towering glaciers receded, the glaciers left great deposits of sand. The melting glacier fed Lake Agassiz and carried silt and sand that formed a vast delta. Lake Agassiz is long gone but wind and rain over the eons have shaped the delta's silt and sand into the rolling topography of Sheyenne NG.

Located where east meets west, the Sheyenne NG is home to a wealth of unique wildlife and plant species. Some of the last stretches of tall grass prairie in North Dakota are found in this grassland. Visitors to the Sheyenne NG may be fortunate enough to see a Sharp-tailed grouse or a Fox squirrel. More often seen are raccoons, Wood ducks, or Coopers hawks, just to mention a few animals that make the Sheyenne NG their home.

The Western Prairie Fringed Orchid is a spectacular and endangered plant found in the Sheyenne NG. Sharp eyes might spot this delicate blossom in a roadside ditch during the month of July. The Sheyenne NG boasts the largest population known for this flower. Much more plentiful and easier to spot are the Brown-eyed Susan, Prairie roses and Purple coneflowers growing along roadsides in the grassland.

Near the town of Hankinson, ND is the Sheyenne NG's only campground. Hankinson Hills campground is nestled among rolling grass-covered sand hills. Grand old oaks tower above campsites and provide ample shade for campers. An eight-mile trail winding through the sand hills, is popular with both hikers and horse back riders. Like the trail, Hankinson Hills campground welcomes horses and their riders as well as campers without horses. Each group has their own separate section in the campground.

The Sheyenne NG has one of the last patches of "virgin" (meaning it has never been mowed) prairie in North Dakota. It is from this "virgin" prairie that the Forest Service is collecting the seeds of native plants so they can return the land to the prairie it once was. (GPS coordinates - N46 23.623, W97 27.541) The areas now designated as "grasslands" were settled in the 1800s under a variety of "Homestead Acts" which opened the land to people, generally farmers, and helped to settle the west. A prolonged period of drought in the late 1920s into the 1930s caused some homesteads on sub-marginal farmland (a location receiving 15 or less inches of annual moisture) to literally dry up and blow away. During this time, Congress established the Land Utilization Program (LUP) which purchased homesteads from bankrupt private owners and returned them to public land status. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) helped to stabilize the eroding soil by re-seeding and applying other conservation techniques. In the 1950s, the LUP holdings were assigned to the USDA, Forest Service which was tasked with management of these sub-marginal lands. Over the years the Forest Service has established some twenty National Grasslands. "The designation of the area as National Grassland is not a description of the area as much as a statement of policy and effort to restore the area to a multiple of uses and benefits."

The Sheyenne River winds its way through most of the Sheyenne NG, its banks held in place by basswood, ash, and oak. The River, like the land, has changed greatly since the glaciers disappeared. Today, the Sheyenne River's flow is only a fraction of what it was during those long ago days when the glaciers were receding. The land, once shifting and wind-blown, is now anchored by the returning grass. The Sheyenne NG is slowly recovering from the damage done to it and invites all to discover a grassland in transition.


Map of Dakota Prairie Grasslands
ADDRESSES

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 2000 Miriam Circle Bismarck, North Dakota 58501 701-989-7300 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESS Sheyenne 1601 Main Street Lisbon, ND 58054 701-683-4342




Fred and Suzi Dow