nd.gov - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government
North Dakota: Legendary. Follow the trail of legends
North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department
Canoeing Symbol

North Dakota canoeing rivers


Knife River

Knife River VillageThe Knife River, rich in human history, acts as a gateway to the great Missouri River. The Knife River Indian Villages, a concentration of earth lodge villages and related sites clustered near the mouth of the river, is a nationally recognized historic site. This site was frequented by Lewis and Clark and their men during the winter of 1804-05. Further upstream, vast deposits of a unique type of solidified sedimentary silicate, known as Knife River flint, can be found. The flint has several properties which made it a high-demand item among peoples living in the state’s prehistoric period. In response to the demand for this flint, long and complex trade networks developed across much of the U.S. and Canada. Canoeists can experience a portion of this trade route along the Knife River and into the Missouri River.

Because the Knife River is a tributary to the Missouri River, its flora and fauna are similar. Broad plains, river bluffs and riverbottom forests all create the environment along the river. The lower stretch of the river is recommended for an easy, leisurely canoe. Other stretches of the river are mostly inaccessible and have numerous hazards.

Where to go for day trips

A short segment through the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is recommended. Canoeists can put in upstream of the historic site or at the historic site and take out at the Stanton City Park or continue on into the Missouri River. The trip from the historic site to the Stanton City Park will take from 1 to 3 hours. Flows are best in spring and summer, but some backflow occurs from the Missouri River, which extends the canoeing season.


  • Highway 31 bridge, upstream of Knife River National Historic Site (fair)
  • Sakakawea Site at Knife River National Historic Site (good)
  • Stanton City Park (Sakakawea Park) boat ramp (excellent)
  • UPA boat ramp on Missouri River (excellent)


  • Knife River National Historic Site - 701.745.3309

Flow information

U.S. Geological Survey: http://nd.water.usgs.gov/canoeing/index.html.