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Canoeing Symbol

North Dakota canoeing rivers


Pembina River

Pembina RiverThe Pembina River meanders through the thickly wooded slopes, broad uplands, and isolated tranquility which symbolizes North Dakota’s Pembina River valley. It flows with a beauty and grace distinctly different than any other river in the state. The Pembina River’s rocky bed offers mild white water experiences. The timbered hills of the river corridor not only provide a stately scenic backdrop for canoeists but also host many unique flora and fauna, such as elk and moose.

The Pembina River valley was a focal point of the first settlement in North Dakota. Driven by the promise of a fledgling fur industry in the early 1800s, the state’s first influx of permanent Euro-American settlers, the Selkirkers, established themselves near the mouth of the Pembina River. A small and simple settlement developed, which contained the first churches, schools and homesteads known to North Dakota. One of the original homesteads from this era, the Kittson Cabin, is a State Historic Site in Walhalla.

The Pembina River has the only white water found in North Dakota. The river’s drop upstream of Walhalla creates Class I rapids. Fast water and river bends create a challenging canoe environment.

Where to go for day trips

Along the upper stretch of the Pembina River, from the Vang Bridge (County Road 55) in Cavalier County to the ND Highway 32 Bridge near Walhalla or Riverside Park in Walhalla, both in Pembina County. This stretch includes rapids and quick turns. This trip will take approximately 2 to 4 hours. Hazards - Downed trees and snags.


  • Hwy 32 Bridge - Walhalla
  • Brick Mine Bridge Co Rd 55 - 5 miles west of Walhalla
  • Vang Bridge Co Rd 55 - 7 miles west of Walhalla


  • Icelandic State Park - 701.265.4561
  • Pembina Gorge - 701.549.2444
  • North Dakota Forest Service, District Forester - 701.549.2441
  • North Dakota Game and Fish Department (information on public lands in the Pembina River valley) - 701.662.3617

Flow information

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