|Kurt Leier, Bismarck, a manager at Capital R.V., shows one of the center’s RV options. (Photo by Kent Brick)
Exploring N.D. from an RV
by Luann Dart
(This article is a condensed version of a story that ran in the May 2013 edition of North Dakota LIVING, to read the full story and more about other North Dakotans subscribe today!)
North Dakota has hundreds of great campgrounds and RV sites, all awaiting camping enthusiasts.
To learn more about North Dakota’s state parks, visit ww.parkrec.nd.gov. For other campgrounds, visit ww.ndtourism.com, and check the “campground” box.
To learn more about the North Dakota Good Sam Club, visit www.ndgoodsam.webs.com.
Whether it’s casting a line into Lake Sakakawea, Devils Lake or Lake Ashtabula; jet skiing at Lake Tschida; or roaming with the buffalo at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a growing number of RV enthusiasts are exploring North Dakota.
“It’s been a steady upward trend the last 15 years,” says Kurt Leier, Bismarck, a manager at Capital R.V., which has dealerships in Bismarck and Minot.
The Bismarck dealership, which is served by Capital Electric Cooperative, has witnessed a steady increase in RV sales.
“A lot of people think the oil impacts it so much, but it really hasn’t. It’s still more recreational use,” Leier says.
“In the state of North Dakota, we sell more fifth-wheels than anything,” he shares. “A lot of people fish around the state or take their bikes. They can go to the campground and park and have a vehicle to drive.”
Whatever they drive, many North Dakotans are camping within the borders, he believes.
“A lot of them are staying in the state. There are a lot of nice campgrounds in the state, which is very good for tourism,” Leier shares.
North Dakota’s 13 state parks recorded 1.19 million visitors in 2012, an 11.9 percent increase over 2011, according to Mike Jensen, N.D. Tourism’s outdoor promotions manager. The most popular state park last year was Fort Stevenson State Park on Lake Sakakawea, with 153,560 visitors.
On the north shore of giant Lake Sakakawea, Ft. Stevenson State Park is known as the walleye capital of North Dakota.
“National campgrounds such as the Juniper Campground in the North Unit and the Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park are very popular among RV campers,” he says. “We say a 13 percent increase in national park visitors in 2012. We also have some great private, city, county and U.S. government campgrounds, like the Downstream Campground in the shadow of the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, or Indian Hills Resort on Lake Sakakawea, as well as Eastbay Campground on Devils Lake. There are also other options like the East Ashtabula Crossing Campground on Lake Ashtabula just north of Valley City. These are all popular sites with RV campers.”
Indian Hills Resort is quietly hidden in Goodbear Bay on Lake Sakakawea, while Eastbay Campground is located on the east shore of Devils Lake, a short 15 miles east of the town of Devils Lake. The lake now covers more than 100,000 acres and is one of North Dakota’s premier fishing spots.
The East Ashtabula Crossing Campground is located on 12 developed acres adjacent to Lake Ashtabula in eastern North Dakota. It is one of the most popular campgrounds in the area.
Lake Tschida, which is also known as the Heart Butte Reservoir in south central North Dakota, is also witnessing a dedicated group of campers returning to the area each summer.
“Lake Tschida is attracting many families that are RV camping,” says Michelle Psyck, the office manager for the recreational portion of the lake. “Large electric sites and a comfort station, sandy beaches and many boat launches make a multitude of activities available.” Psyck estimates 78 percent of the lake’s campers are in an RV.
RV campers can enjoy the outdoors with the amenities of home, Leier points out. Just like any vehicle, RVs have changed over the years, adding more features, such as large-screen TVs and slideouts to create extra room for families, Leier says.
From retirees to families, RVing has become a popular pastime that transcends the generations, Leier says.
Luann Dart is a freelance writer who lives near Elgin.