Icelandic State Park



If you haven’t been to Icelandic State Park up in the northeast corner of the state, you really should put it on your “Bucket List.” The park encompasses around 900 acres along the Tongue Rive a few miles west of Cavalier just off highway 5.

No doubt many visitors to the park are after the northern pike, walleye, perch, or crappie in Renwick Reservoir. But there is a lot more to Icelandic than a fishing spot. The park provides a great opportunity to see some interesting plants and animals.

Most state parks are rich in flora and fauna, but this is particularly true for Icelandic. Forest dominated by oak, aspen, and birch can be found in the park. The park also contains lowland forests of elm, basswood, and ironwood. Plus there are some wetland habitats supporting spring fed alder thickets which are particularly unique in North Dakota.

That biodiversity was not lost on G. B. Gunlogson. Within the park is the Gunlogson State Nature Preserve. Established in the 1960’s the nature preserve was the first of its kind in North Dakota. The tract consists of around 200 acres which was part of the family homestead. As Gunlogson so accurately stated, and I quote:


“The nature area is the part in which I am most interested…The terrain is highly varied and includes forest, brush, marsh, meadow, upland prairie, springs, ponds, and the Tongue River. It includes probably a greater variety of native plants, birds, and wildlife than found anywhere else in the state in one place.”

G. B. Gunlogson quote


You can enjoy the nature preserve from a network of nature trails. You might see several of North Dakota’s rarer plants and animals. Rare animals found here include the pileated woodpecker, northern waterthrush, mourning warbler, and western wood pewee. Rare plants include several species of ferms (ladyfern, crested woodfern, spinulose woodfern, sensitive fern, and marsh fern). Plus the showy lady’s slipper, the Minnesota state flower, can also be found here.

November might not be the most opportune time of the year to visit Icelandic State Park, but anytime is a good time. So the next time you are in this area, make a point of visiting the park to enjoy some unique and interesting natural North Dakota.

Chuck Lura

Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.



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