About 12 miles of Bismarck, North Dakota, along the I-94, is a small lake that seems insignificant enough for a state so out of the way for most Americans, but yet offers some great RV boondocking that all RVers should pin on their map.
Sweet Briar Lake is operated by Morton County’s Department of Parks and Campgrounds. With 886 acres of lake, grass, and campgrounds, it’s still large enough to accommodate a few dozen RVs, maybe more. Each campsite is spread far apart from the others, but some campsites are large enough to hold a few 40 foot fifth wheels or Class A coaches. Each campsite has a fire ring, most have picnic tables, and some have pit toilets. There are campsites located completely around the lake.
My advice is to get there, find anywhere to unhitch your trailer or toad, but don’t set up camp. Instead drive around the entire lake because you’ll find some awesome sites that you’ll want to move to.
Most of the sites along the shore look as if they get muddied and rutted during rains, so keep a watch over the forecast before settling on a site. There are several sites located away from the shore that look to be on more firm ground, yet still offer lake views.
Sweet Briar Lake is primarily a fishing destination, and once the weekend comes around, the sites fill up fast. So, definitely get there by Friday morning at the very latest if you want to find great sites. Once the weekend passed, I found myself the only camper at the entire lake.
My campsite was located at 46.868192, -101.253771 and could very well have been the prettiest location with the most peace and quiet. It’s set back enough from the shore that I wasn’t bothered by fisherman or families, and it came with several tall pines for decent afternoon shade.
There is a 10-day limit on camping at Sweet Briar Lake, and I did see a Sheriff’s car driving the perimeter of the lake at least once, perhaps keeping a watch for campers who have worn out their welcome. Verizon 4G signal came in OK, getting 2-3 bars unboosted. I was getting 4 bars through our WeBoost amplifier. Truck noise from the I-94 can be heard from my particular campsite, but was subdued enough that I largely tuned it out. It did rain considerably while I was there, but my campsite didn’t get muddy.
During sunny days, gnats and mosquitoes are about. I noticed several mice scurrying around, all across the campground. Take care to minimize their access into your RV.
It’s definitely not a lake to swim, or even wade in. A closer look at the water shows it’s teeming with algae and moss, and very likely will host single-celled pathogens (think amoebas) that could wreak havoc on your body. But the lake is home to numerous species of indigenous and migratory birds. If you’re into bird watching, this your place.