McLean CountyPlacesVisiting

The Most Interesting Places You Can Visit

Sprawling over 2257 sq miles within the central region of North Dakota, the McLean County has 28 townships and 17 towns. Apparently, there are a number of interesting places especially in the cities of Garrison and Washburn, which also happens to be the county seat. Here are the places you should visit on your trip to McLean County –

McLean National Wildlife Refuge

Rare look of White-tailed deer

The McLean National Wildlife Refuge with 760 acres of grasslands, wetlands and Susie lake system will let you have sightings of Canada Geese, Mallards, Canvasbacks, White-fronted Geese during spring and fall. Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls, Marbled Godwit, Wilson’s phalarope etc flock in thousands on nesting island.

Traverse through the grasslands to greet the White-tail deer, reptiles, grasshoppers, sandpipers, upland sandpipers, Savannah sparrows and more.

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge

Welcoming entrance in Audubon National Wildlife Refuge
Credit: USFWS

The visitor center of Audubon National Wildlife Refuge will give you an insight of the grassland and prairie habitat, history of refuge, its night life, migratory birds and James Audubon. The auto tour route and gravel trails are there to explore the wetlands and grasslands full of native and migrating fauna.

You can also take advantage of the bird photography blind overlooking the Audubon Lake.

Lake Nettie National Wildlife Refuge

Map of the Lake Nettie

The 3055-acre Lake Nettie NWR in Missouri Coteau is famous for the Turtle Creek that snakes through the flatland to meet the Missouri River. The wetland is home to over 200 bird species like Northern Pintail, Western Meadowlarks, Marbled Godwits, and Savannah Sparrows etc. for nesting, breeding, rearing as well as migration.

Apart from songbirds, shorebirds, marshbirds, raptors and upland birds, there are Snapping and Western Painted Turtles, Tiger Salamander, coyote, red fox, deer mouse and many animals. Deer hunting is

allowed here.

McLean County Historical Society Museum

The McLean County Courthouse & Square in Bloomington (1903)

To know about McLean County and North Dakota, the County Museum will be the most interesting place with different sections dedicated to different exhibits.

While the main building showcases exhibits regarding fossils, rocks, Native American history, Mercer Store, wildlife, Lewis & Clark, paintings, old pictures, military memorabilia etc, the Joe Taylor Cabin and Sioux Ferry will speak on behalf of their respective histories.

Cross Ranch State Park

Cross Ranch State Park, North Dakota

Sprawling along the Missouri River, Cross Ranch State Park is a primitive and pristine area where once the Mandan villagers found their home. Dipped in ancient history, here you can check out the informational displays regarding Missouri River.

Enjoy boating on the river or rent a canoe and try your hand in angling pike, bass and walleye. Rent skis or snowshoes during winter to explore the trail system through woody draws, river bottom thickets and mix-grass prairie or camp at the designated back-country.

Knife River Indian Villages

Earthlodge located at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

Learn about lifestyle of Northern Plain Indians from Upper Missouri at the Knife River Indian Villages which earned its designation as National Historic Site. At the confluence of Missouri River and Knife River, you will see the derelict village remains including travois trails, cache pits and Earth Lodges. Although the roofs and part of walls have collapsed in the course of time, the interior materials speak on behalf of the lifestyle inside.

Exotic grasslands, prairies, Canada Thistle etc are endemic in this area along with fauna like Leaf Hoppers, White-tail Deer, beavers, coyotes, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, red-tailed Hawks, Kestrels, White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons and many more.

Fort Clark Historic Site

Catlin mandan village

The Fort Clark Trading Post is an archaeological district covering 125 acres. It was once the settlement of Arikara and Mandan tribes in different time period and over 2200 features from graves and ruins of houses (storage pits, cache pits, cultural remains etc) are visible here along with lodge depressions and unmarked cemetery having over 800 graves.

The two distinct fur trading posts or Fort Clark and Primeau are the special attractions here.

Fort Mandan And Lewis & Clark Interpretative Center

The North Dakota Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, North Dakota

Relive in the past glory of Captain William Clark and Meriwether Lewis who marked their victory to the Great Northwest at the Lewis & Clark Interpretative Center. From the interactive displays, you will get an idea of how the dream of expanded nation was fulfilled by Corps of Discovery.

Agricultural heritage, steamboats, fur trade and Fort Clark exhibits are also noteworthy. At Fort Mandan, you will find walking trails, visitor center, playground and picnic shelters surrounded by riparian forest.

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