<< All News Friday, May 31, 2024 - 05:00 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. (MAY 31, 2024) Local youth joined the North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department (NDPRD), Governor’s Office and others to celebrate a historic milestone today at the official groundbreaking ceremony for Pembina Gorge State Park. 

As North Dakota’s 14th state park, the newest since 1989, Pembina Gorge State Park marks a significant investment into the state’s outdoor recreation. Local children shared their excitement for the future opportunities they will be able to share with generations to come. 

The project will include underground utilities, roads, an approximately 55-site campground, six all-season full-service cabins, a comfort station and a shop. Future developments may include a visitor center with indoor and outdoor learning areas and retail and office space. 

"Pembina Gorge State Park is a generational investment into one of our state’s most beautiful areas. By adding campsites and elevating Pembina Gorge from a state recreation area to our 14th state park, we will attract additional visitors and provide more opportunities for individuals and families from North Dakota and beyond to experience all that this unique area has to offer," Gov. Doug Burgum said. “This project is an opportunity to enhance outdoor recreation, tourism and economic development while helping us recruit and retain much-needed workforce.”

Outdoor recreation is a primary driver of tourism and a significant contributor to North Dakota’s economy, accounting for nearly $1.4 billion in economic activity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2020, state park visitation alone contributed $154 million to the state’s economy. By adding overnight accommodations and destination property amenities, per-person visitor spending is expected to grow substantially, improving the region’s tourism and economic development. 

Beginning construction on Pembina Gorge State Park is incredibly exciting, and we aim to develop a year-round destination drawing visitors in every season,” said Cody Schulz, NDPRD Director. “The Gorge is already a must-see gem with its extensive trail system and stunning scenery. This park is about blazing new trails with, and for, the next generation.”  

“I was lucky to grow up in a state park because my dad was the manager at Icelandic State Park,” said 18-year-old and two-time Junior Iditarod finisher Eva Robinson from Cavalier. “Those experiences really shaped my values and passion - I am excited that a whole new generation can have experiences like I did at this new state park.”

The Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area (PGSRA) opened to the public in 2012 and has since expanded its trail system to include over 30 miles of trails for hiking, equestrian, and OHV use, as well as a parking area and vault facilities at the trailhead. In 2017, NDPRD secured an additional 165 acres near the recreation area for future development. 

The 2023 Legislature approved $6 million for the new park facilities, with an additional $2 million coming from a matching federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. Burgum had recommended funding for the Pembina Gorge campground project in his executive budget proposal in December 2022. 

The establishment of Pembina Gorge State Park continues the state’s tradition of preserving and enhancing its natural landscapes for public enjoyment and economic growth. 

The mission of the North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department is to enrich generations through experiences that connect people and places.


<< All News