Stately bur oak and basswood rise from the shaded forest floor of Gunlogson State Nature Preserve, while a tangle of alder shrubs sprout in the spring-fed wetlands. More than a dozen rare species can be spotted in the preserve, ranging from watermeal, one of the world's smallest flowering plants, to bishop's cap, a boreal species limited to a handful of locales in the state. The preserve also contains seldom seen birds such as the pileated woodpecker, an imposing species that excavates its signature rectangular holes in the trees of these forests.

Located at Icelandic State Park, the Gunlogson State Nature Preserve has 3 miles of hiking and cross-country ski trails open for available so visitors can enjoy the nature preserve year round.

Preserve History

G.B. Gunlogson loved this beautiful spot in the northeastern corner of North Dakota. His family homesteaded here and the area left a lasting impression on him. In 1963, Gunlogson donated 200 acres of the family's land to the state. This area later became North Dakota's first dedicated state nature preserve. Gunlogson understood and spoke of the importance of natural areas.

"The nature area is the part in which I am most deeply 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... They form a sort of living link between a pre-settlement condition of land and the present."

Natural features

Lowland woodland is the dominant community type within the preserve. The lowland woodland is predominantly comprised of American elm, basswood, and ironwood. Along with a variety of sedges and forbs, beaked hazel is a common understory species of the lowland woodland. Oak woodland communities line the upper margins of the Tongue River Valley. The Tongue River winds throughout the preserve and is perhaps the lifeline of the entire preserve. This segment of the Tongue is a spring-fed river, which contributes dramatically to the significant botanical and forest resources surrounding it. The wetland thicket basin areas of the preserve house the highest local concentrations of rare species. Both eastern deciduous and boreal aquatic species are present, many at the outer limits of their range.

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State Rare Animals

The following state rare animals have been seen at the Gunlogson State Nature Preserve: 

  • Mourning Warbler - Oporornis philadelphia

  • Northern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensis

  • Finescale Dace - Phoxinus neogaeus

  • Piliated Woodpecker - Drycopus pilatus

  • Western Wood-Pewee - Contopus sordidulus

  • Common Loon - Gavia immer

  • Mourning Warbler - Oporornis philadelphia

  • Northern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensis

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State Rare Plants

The following state rare plants have been seen at the Gunlogson State Nature Preserve: 

  • Ladyfern - Athyrium filix-femina

  • Water Arum - Calla palustris

  • Two-seeded Sedge - Carex disperma

  • Delicate Sedge - Carex leptalea

  • Small Enchanter's Nightshade - Ciraea alpina

  • Showy Lady's Slipper - Cypripedium reginae

  • Crested Woodfern - Dryopteris cristata

  • Spinulose Woodfern - Dryopteris spinulosa

  • Shade Horsetail - Equisetum pratense

  • Water Avens - Geum rivale

  • Bishop's Cap - Mitella nuda

  • Sensitive Fern - Onoclea sensibilis

  • Marsh Fern - Thelypteris palustris

  • Southern Watermeal - Wolffia columbiana