If you’re planning to bike across the United States, your trip wouldn’t be complete without an overnight stay at General Sibley Park and Campground outside of Bismarck, ND. We had the opportunity to speak with Martha Willand at the park, who filled us in on the history of the park, what to see and do – and which site she’d choose to spend the night in. Listen to our full interview here:
General Sibley Park and Campground ND
Camp North Dakota: I’m talking with Martha Willand this morning. She’s the Facility Specialist for General Sibley Park and Campground in North Dakota. Martha, why don’t you get started by telling us how long General Sibley Park and Campground has been there and how it got started?
Martha Willand: All right. Well, it’s been in existence, at least with Bismarck Parks and Recreation, since 1967. Prior to that, it had been used as a recreational area back into the ’30s, but it was kind of known as an area that was kind dilapidated. I’m not familiar with what buildings were here, but I guess there were some structures and it was used by some locals for recreation, but it was also kind of a hobo area at the time. And then the land was later acquired by the Army Core, in the ’50, for fighting purposes because we’re right off in the (Unclear 00:52.4) River. And with the encouragement of the Isaac (Unclear 00:56.4) and I think a couple County Park Commissioners, it was finally pushed through with about ten years’ worth of time and they did a recognized recreational area.
CND: Okay. What types of camping do you offer there?
Martha Willand: There’s tent camping and RV camping. There are 113 RV sites and tent camping there are no designated sites. They can just setup anywhere they’d like in the tent area.
CND: Nice. And what are the most popular activities for the guests there?
Martha Willand: Well, our day use area is the most popular area, and there are horseshoe pits. There are a couple picnic shelters. There are two playgrounds: one for two to five-year-olds and one for five to twelve-year-olds. But I’d say the most common activity for us our Frisbee disc golf course. We have a 24-hole course, and it’s very popular wit dog-walkers and runners.
CND: Okay. And what are some of the favorite attractions in and around that area?
Martha Willand: Well, a lot of people that like to come to this area are actually locals. We have a lot of people from the Bismarck Mainland area in North Dakota in general. The Western half of the State is the oil fields, and so a lot of locals cannot even get into campgrounds in their local, so they’ll come here. Otherwise, if people are traveling through, there are quite a few people that actually bike across country and we’re right off one of those routes. And so, we get a lot of people that are either heading from Seattle to Maine, and we’re on the way, or vice verse. Otherwise, there’s Bismarck. There might be come and go fishing on the (Unclear 2:44.4) River. Do some sightseeing. There’s the Zoo and the North Dakota Heritage Center, which is the history museum. There’s various activities that people come here for.
CND: Okay. What’s your favorite attraction around there? What do you like? If you have a little bit of downtime, what do you usually do?
Martha Willand: My favorite thing to do is actually just to go down to the Missouri River. We’re at the end of a dead end road. And it’s a no-maintenance path that leads down to the river from our Park. So, you can off-road down there, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So, I generally just walk down to the river all the time, and there are sandbars. That’s where I find it to be peaceful and that’s where I like to take my dogs.
CND: Last question for you. If you were going to spend just one night at General Sibley Park and Campground, which specific campsite would you choose and why?
Martha Willand: I would pick any. Well, I guess I should define that our RV sites are available for tents also.
CND: Oh, okay.
Martha Willand:For tent campers. You just have to pay the same rate, which is 22 dollars, and then you can have two tents on one of those RV sites. And I would pick anything in the eighties, because it’s more heavily wooded. It’s private and you’re right off the channel of the Missouri River and you have a great view.
CND: All right, perfect. Thanks for that little tip, and thank you, Martha, for chatting with us today about General Sibley Park and Campground in North Dakota.
Martha Willand: All right. Well, thank you very much.