Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail In North Dakota

Here is everything you need to know about the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: North Dakota
  • Length: 1.1 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail holds significant historical importance as it is located near the site where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1804-1805. This trail is situated in North Dakota, along the banks of the Missouri River, and offers visitors a glimpse into the past through its rich historical exhibits and interpretive signage.

Fort Mandan was originally constructed by the Corps of Discovery, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, as a winter encampment during their exploration of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. The expedition arrived at the site in late October 1804 and remained there until April 1805. During their stay, the members of the expedition built Fort Mandan to protect themselves from the harsh winter conditions and establish a base for further exploration.

The Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about the daily lives of the expedition members during their winter stay. The trail features reconstructed versions of the fort’s buildings, including the quarters where Lewis and Clark resided, as well as the blacksmith shop and the trading post. These structures offer a glimpse into the challenges faced by the expedition, such as the harsh weather, interactions with Native American tribes, and the scientific discoveries made during their time at Fort Mandan.

Overall, the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail serves as a living testament to the historical significance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and their winter encampment. It allows visitors to immerse themselves in the past and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs experienced by these early explorers.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Fort Mandan State Historic Site: This is the starting point of the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail. It is located near Washburn, North Dakota, and is the reconstructed fort where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1804-1805.

2. Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center: This access point is located in Washburn, North Dakota, and serves as a visitor center and museum dedicated to the Lewis and Clark expedition. It provides information about the trail and its historical significance.

3. Cross Ranch State Park: Situated along the Missouri River, Cross Ranch State Park offers access to the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail. It provides camping facilities, hiking trails, and scenic views of the river.

4. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site: Located near Stanton, North Dakota, this access point showcases the history and culture of the Northern Plains Indians. It offers interpretive trails and exhibits related to the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes.

5. Double Ditch Indian Village State Historic Site: Situated near Bismarck, North Dakota, this access point features the remains of an ancient Mandan village. It offers interpretive trails and exhibits about the Native American history of the area.

6. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park: Located near Mandan, North Dakota, this access point provides camping facilities, hiking trails, and historical sites related to the military history of the area. It is also home to the reconstructed On-A-Slant Indian Village.

7. Fort Rice State Historic Site: Situated near Sterling, North Dakota, this access point preserves the remains of a military post established in 1864. It offers interpretive trails and exhibits about the history of the fort and its role in the settlement of the region.

8. Fort Stevenson State Park: Located near Garrison, North Dakota, this access point offers camping facilities, hiking trails, and recreational activities along the shores of Lake Sakakawea. It also features a reconstructed trading post and interpretive exhibits about the area’s history.

9. Audubon National Wildlife Refuge: Situated near Coleharbor, North Dakota, this access point provides opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation. It offers trails and viewing platforms to explore the diverse habitats of the refuge.

10. Lake Sakakawea State Park: Located near Pick City, North Dakota, this access point offers camping facilities, hiking trails, and water-based recreational activities on Lake Sakakawea. It provides scenic views and opportunities to explore the natural beauty of the area.

Transportation Available

1. Mandan Taxi – Local taxi service providing convenient transportation in the Fort Mandan area.
2. Lewis & Clark Shuttle – Shuttle service offering transportation to and from Fort Mandan, perfect for exploring the trail.
3. Mandan Public Transit – Public bus service with routes covering the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail.
4. Uber – Ride-hailing service available in the Fort Mandan area, providing on-demand transportation.
5. Lyft – Another ride-hailing service offering convenient transportation options near the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail.


The amenities available at the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available for visitors to use during their visit.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles while exploring the trail.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the trail’s regulations and facilities, there may be designated camping sites available for visitors who wish to stay overnight.

4. Picnic Areas: There could be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack amidst the natural surroundings.

5. Visitor Center: A visitor center may be present, providing information, exhibits, and possibly a gift shop.

6. Interpretive Signage: Throughout the trail, there may be informative signs or panels providing historical and natural information about the area.

7. Benches and Seating: There might be benches or seating areas along the trail for visitors to rest and take in the scenery.

8. Trash Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness, there may be trash receptacles available for visitors to dispose of their waste.

9. Drinking Water: Depending on the trail’s facilities, there may be drinking water stations or fountains available for visitors to stay hydrated.

10. Accessibility: The trail might be designed to be accessible for individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair ramps or paved paths.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail’s official website or contact the relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Fort Mandan Lodge – A nearby lodging option offering comfortable accommodations for visitors.
2. Mandan Diner – A food service establishment serving delicious meals and snacks.
3. Mandan Fire Department – Emergency services available for any unforeseen incidents.
4. Mandan Police Department – Emergency services available for any law enforcement needs.
5. Mandan Hospital – Emergency medical services available for any healthcare needs.
6. Mandan Pharmacy – A nearby pharmacy providing essential medications and healthcare products.
7. Mandan Gas Station – A convenient fuel station for visitors’ needs.
8. Mandan Grocery Store – A nearby grocery store offering a variety of food and supplies.

Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail Difficulty Notes

The Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for individuals of various fitness levels. The trail spans approximately 1.5 miles and features a combination of paved and natural surfaces. While there are some inclines and uneven terrain, the trail is generally well-maintained and accessible. Along the way, hikers can explore the rich history of the Lewis and Clark expedition, with informative signage and replicas of the original fort structures. The trail also provides opportunities to observe local wildlife and enjoy scenic views of the Missouri River. Overall, the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail offers a rewarding and manageable hiking experience for visitors.

Features And Attractions

Info not available.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Please clean up after your pets and dispose of waste in designated bins.
3. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
4. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during extreme weather conditions or for maintenance purposes.
5. Camping or overnight stays are not allowed on the trail.
6. Hunting, fishing, and trapping are strictly prohibited.
7. Do not disturb or remove any plants, animals, or artifacts found along the trail.
8. Fires and open flames are not allowed on the trail.
9. Please stay on designated paths and respect any signage or barriers.
10. Visitors are encouraged to carry out any trash or litter they generate and dispose of it properly.
11. Swimming or wading in any bodies of water along the trail is not permitted.
12. Alcohol consumption is prohibited on the trail.
13. Visitors are responsible for their own safety and should exercise caution while hiking or exploring the trail.
14. Respect the natural environment and avoid any actions that may harm or disrupt wildlife or plant life.
15. Use of drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles is not allowed without prior permission from the trail management.

Seasonal Information

The Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail is a captivating destination that offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the rich history and natural beauty of North Dakota. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are particularly ideal for a visit.

One of the best times to visit the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail is during the spring season, from April to June. During this time, the weather is mild, and the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery. It is a perfect time to witness the awakening of nature and enjoy the serene beauty of the Missouri River, which the trail follows. Additionally, spring is a great time to spot various bird species that migrate through the area, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

Another fantastic time to visit the trail is in the fall, from September to October. The autumn foliage paints the landscape with stunning hues of red, orange, and gold, creating a picturesque setting for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The cooler temperatures make it comfortable for outdoor activities, and the trail offers breathtaking views of the changing seasons along the riverbanks.

It is important to note that the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail may have seasonal closures or limited access during certain times of the year. The trail is typically open from sunrise to sunset, but it is advisable to check with the local authorities or visitor center for any closures or restrictions before planning your visit. Winter months, from December to February, may experience heavy snowfall and extreme cold, which can make the trail inaccessible or hazardous. However, if you are an experienced winter hiker or cross-country skier, this time of year can offer a unique and tranquil experience, with the snow-covered landscape creating a serene atmosphere.

In conclusion, the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail is a remarkable destination that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Spring and fall offer the best weather and stunning natural beauty, while winter provides a unique experience for those seeking solitude and adventure. Regardless of the season, the trail promises a captivating journey through history and nature, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich heritage and breathtaking landscapes of North Dakota.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trail: The Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail is designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, providing a smooth and level pathway throughout the trail.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are provided at the trailhead, offering facilities that meet ADA standards.
4. Braille Signage: Informational signs along the trail include Braille translations, allowing visually impaired individuals to access the historical and natural information.
5. Audio Guide: An audio guide is available for visitors with visual impairments, providing a narrated tour of the trail’s historical and natural features.
6. Service Animal Accommodation: The trail welcomes service animals, ensuring individuals with disabilities have the necessary support during their visit.
7. Benches and Rest Areas: Rest areas with benches are strategically placed along the trail, providing opportunities for individuals to take breaks and rest if needed.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails are installed at certain sections of the trail, offering additional support and safety for individuals with mobility challenges.
9. Accessible Picnic Area: A designated accessible picnic area is available near the trail, allowing individuals to enjoy outdoor dining in an inclusive environment.
10. Visual Contrast: The trail features visual contrast in its design, ensuring that individuals with visual impairments can differentiate between different surfaces and elements along the pathway.

Safety Information

1. Stay on the designated trail: Stick to the marked path to avoid getting lost or damaging the surrounding environment.
2. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy shoes or hiking boots to ensure stability and protect your feet from potential hazards.
3. Carry water and stay hydrated: Bring an adequate supply of water to prevent dehydration during your hike.
4. Use sunscreen and insect repellent: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays and potential bug bites.
5. Be aware of wildlife: Respect the natural habitat and keep a safe distance from any animals you encounter.
6. Watch out for uneven terrain: Be cautious of rocks, roots, or other obstacles that may cause tripping or falling.
7. Check weather conditions: Before starting your hike, check the weather forecast to prepare for any potential changes or adverse conditions.
8. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know about your hiking plans, including your expected return time.
9. Stay alert and be cautious: Pay attention to your surroundings and be mindful of any potential hazards or dangers.
10. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and respect the environment by leaving it as you found it.

Conservation Notes

The Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail is a significant conservation area that is carefully managed to preserve its ecological integrity and historical significance. The conservation status of this trail is considered to be in good condition, thanks to the efforts of conservation organizations and local authorities.

The trail is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including several rare and endangered ones. Conservation efforts focus on protecting and restoring the natural habitats within the trail, ensuring the survival of these species. Regular monitoring and research activities are conducted to assess the health of the ecosystem and identify any potential threats or issues that may arise.

To maintain the conservation status of the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail, strict regulations are in place to control human activities within the area. Visitors are encouraged to follow designated paths and refrain from disturbing the flora and fauna. Additionally, educational programs and awareness campaigns are conducted to promote responsible behavior and highlight the importance of conservation.

Overall, the conservation status of the Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail is actively managed and monitored to ensure the long-term preservation of its natural and historical resources. Through ongoing efforts, this trail continues to serve as a valuable habitat for wildlife and a place of historical significance for visitors to enjoy and appreciate.

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