Turtle River State Park, Arvilla

Credit for the establishment of Turtle River State Park goes to Russell Reid, superintendent of the State Historical Society of North Dakota from 1930 to 1965. Serving also as secretary of the State Parks Committee and state procurement officer for the Civilian Conservation Corps, Reid helped shape North Dakota's fledgling state park system.

Civilian Conservation Corps

Established in 1934, Turtle River State Park was one of a number of new parks built in North Dakota under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" programs. Intended to provide economic relief to the nation's unemployed during the Great Depression of the 1930s, work relief programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were initiated.

In 1935, a CCC transient work camp, SP-5, was built in Larimore. It initially housed 185 young men, along with their commanding officers. They were assigned to build a new park nearby, originally called Grand Forks State Park.

CCC construction projects in the park included bridges, roads, parking areas, foot paths and a number of stone and log buildings, many of which are still in use today. One of their notable achievements was the construction of a fieldstone dam, swimming hole and bathhouse. The bathhouse was later converted into the CCC Memorial Picnic Shelter, and the swimming hole was closed due to public safety concerns.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the men constructed the Woodland Lodge, which was to be used as a combined dining hall, concessions building and caretaker's home. The lodge served as the park's centerpiece until 2000, when it was severely damaged during spring flooding. The building was painstakingly dismantled and reconstructed in 2002 on higher ground. At the old site, you can still see the outline of the foundation and the original fireplace.
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Turtle River State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
33 reviews
  • We were here for the 4th of July and we had a great time. They had great facilities and new trails. There are plenty of places to have fun in the water and go hiking in the woods. We will have to stop...  more »
  • Turtle River State Park was nice. We were there early in the season so the water and washroom facilities were not yet open. The sites seemed fine although they might be tight if the Park were busy. It...  more »
  • This is a pretty fun place to go if you don't mind driving about 20 minutes out of town. Worth it in my opinion. The shelters and facilities seem well kept and there are lots of places to hike with the family. As far as Grand Forks goes this is about the most elevation change you will find, which is a nice break from the flat surroundings in the RRV.
  • Very nice park for hiking and biking. You can checkout park passes at the library for free if you live in Grand forks County!
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