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North Dakota canoeing rivers


Sheyenne River

Sheyenne RiverDuring its lengthy course through the south central corner of the state, the Sheyenne River transects a variety of North Dakota terrains. Rolling hills, wide bottomland forests, open prairies and rich agricultural land, each with its own unique characteristics and beauty, blend along the river’s banks to create a continuous mosaic of scenery.

Many recreational opportunities are offered along this lengthy, peaceful river system. The diversity of natural features along its meandering path is an attraction to many, as visitors can see terrain seldom associated with North Dakota. Sandhills, abrupt river banks and noble stands of forest invite photographers, hikers and sightseers to spend a day marveling at the innate beauty of the river valley.

Two large tracts of public lands (Lonetree Wildlife Managment Area and Sheyenne National Grassland) and numerous small parks and public land areas are located on the Sheyenne River in several counties which provide numerous recreational opportunities, from hiking, biking, camping, sightseeing, and bird watching, to hunting and fishing.

Although the river extends through North Dakota for 280 miles, only a few segments are recommended for canoeing. The entire stretch has many hazards and lowhead dams. Canoeists, however, can enjoy the many wonders of the river and river valley along a few selected stretches.

Where to go for day trips

Three stretches are recommended: a 22 mile stretch southeast of Cooperstown, a 14 mile stretch from the Baldhill Dam to Chautauqua Park in Valley City, and the river through Fort Ransom State Park (FRSP). These stretches provide easy canoeing on fairly slow waters in a tranquil setting. The scenic value and wildlife viewing are very good.


  • Cooperstown Bible Camp to Thompson Bridge - 6 to 9 hours to canoe entire stretch. This bible camp is a private establishment and contact should be made ahead of time to request permission to access the river. Hazards - Extensive snags from fallen trees require a few portages in the stretch north of the Bible Camp. Low flows.
  • Baldhill Dam Bridge to Valley City National Fish Hatchery or Chautauqua Park - 5 to 8 hours. Hazards - Two treacherous rock dams must be portaged between Baldhill Dam and the Fish Hatchery. It is recommended that canoeists do not canoe through Valley City as there are several dams that would make the trip very hazardous.
  • Fort Ransom State Park Canoe Trail - 1.5 to 7 hours, depending on put-in point. FRSP provides canoe access. Many day-trippers will put in at the state park, canoe upstream and float back down. For a fee, park personnel will transport you to one of six drop-off points and canoeists can float back to the park. Two of these access points are publicly accessable, so an independent canoeist can provide their own drop off and pick up. The trip from Little Yellowstone to Fort Ransom will take approximately 6 to 7 hours. The park also rents canoes for a fee. Canoeing is usually best in the spring and early summer. Hazards - snags and deadfalls.


  • Fort Ransom State Park - 701.973.4331
  • Valley City Park District - 701.845.3294
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - 701.845.2970
  • Cooperstown Bible Camp (for permission to access) - 701.797.2174

Flow information

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