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Natural Areas of North Dakota

Pembina Gorge

GIF--Location of Natural Area


Alexis Duxbury

Directions: From Walhalla, 6 miles west to Pembina River bridge. County and topographic maps are indispensable for getting around this area.

The Pembina Gorge is a forested valley of striking proportions. Carved by glacial meltwaters, the Gorge and its tributaries encompass one of the largest woodland blocks and longest, deepest unaltered river valleys in North Dakota.

JPG--River Rafting

While woods prevail, interspersed is a mosaic of shrubland, prairie, and wetland types. The cobble-lined Pembina River threads a winding path through the valley floor. This broad spectrum of habitats and environmental extremes gives rise to some of the highest diversity of plant and animal life in the state. The Gorge is home to our only naturally occurring herd of elk. More than 75 species of breeding birds are found here including 11 of the state's 14 breeding warblers. Also found here are more than 480 species of plants, which comprise a third of North Dakota's total flora.

Background Information: The Gorge has been the focus of several investigations. Its birds, mammals, plant life, vegetation and geology are relatively well documented. A bibliography of the studies, reports, and articles that have been published on the Gorge is available from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Information on recreational opportunities in the vicinity of the Gorge is available from the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department.

Facilities: The Pembina River allows for canoe access in the spring. There are no public facilities in the Pembina Gorge.

Ownership and Contacts: The Gorge is a mosaic of private and public lands, with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department constituting the primary public landowners. North of Pembina River (Vang) Bridge approximately 3,900 acres are in public ownership. In most instances the public tracts are inaccessible to vehicular traffic. For further information contact: North Dakota Game and Fish Department, District Office, Devils Lake, ND 58301 or North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, 1424 W. Century Avenue, Suite 202, Bismarck, ND 58501.

ALEXIS DUXBURY is a natural resources botanist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, N.D.

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