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North Dakota canoeing rivers


Souris River

Souris RiverThe Souris River enters from Canada and flows 80 miles southeastward in North Dakota before it loops northward and exits the state. Bordered by two national wildlife refuges, the waterway is a haven for North Dakota wildlife species. These refuges contribute to the state’s significant population of breeding waterfowl. They also serve as critical resting areas for the thousands of birds that annually migrate through the Central Flyway. The refuges also provide homes for terrestrial wildlife such as white-tailed deer and unique birds such as the baird’s sparrow.

The association of wildlife and undisturbed settings within the Souris corridor make the river stretch a popular place for sightseeing, nature observation, and fishing. Canoeing is also a preferred pastime, as both the Upper Souris and J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuges encompass interpreted canoe trails varying in length from three to 13 miles.

Where to go for day trips

Both the Upper Souris and J.Clark Salyer refuges provide canoe trails that are perfect for day trips. Both provide good access with easy to moderate canoeing. Because these trails are within national wildlife refuges, canoeists should contact the refuge headquarters for the most recent flow information and regulations. The best time to canoe these trails is usually spring or early summer in the early morning hours for wildlife viewing.


  • Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge - Two canoe trails open May 1. Canoeing is allowed only on designated canoe routes.
    • Beaver Lodge Canoe Trail - (6 miles round trip) 3 to 5 hours. Canoeists must canoe both upstream and downstream on the same route, since there is only one access. The trail extends downstream to a dam and water control structure, where you must return to the put-in point. Hazards - Several short portages may be required.
    • Fishing is permitted on the Beaver Lodge Canoe Trail from May 1 – September 30, which is located southeast of the parking lot.
    • Non-motorized boats and canoes are permitted.
    • 2.5-Mile Trail - (5 miles round trip), 3 to 6 hours. Begin at Renville County Memorial and canoe upstream to refuge boundary and back. Fishing is allowed.
    • No swimming is allowed
  • J.Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge - The river flows north here into Canada. A 5½ mile route (2 to 3 hours) or a 13 mile route (5 to 7 hours) can be taken. The trail is well marked with mile markers along the river. Hazards - Log jams, strong current. It is not recommended for novices or for people canoeing with small children.


  • J.Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge Manager - 701.768.2548
  • Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge Manager - 701.468.5467

Flow information

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