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. Use our Arvilla driving holiday planner to visit Turtle River State Park on your trip to Arvilla, and learn what else travelers and our writers recommend seeing nearby.
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Turtle River State Park Reviews
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34 reviews
  • We have been driving by this park for over 30 years. This weekend we met our camping friends there. They have a camper we do not. Called 2 months ago and the park ranger got us set up in a cabin...  more »
  • 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.....  more »
  • We enjoyed this state park quite a lot. The low-strain hiking trails are lovely, with many interesting plants to appreciate. The information at the visitor's center is abundant. We had minimal difficulty getting started with a geocaching activity. The park map was easy to read, so we found the bathroom in time! The river access was clean and well maintained. I had no worries about my kids' safety in this area with common-sense precautions.
  • We were passing through the area and planned on staying here just a couple of days. The park is so nice and the sites are so spacious we extended our stay 4 days. It is a very quiet area with nice hiking trails or paved areas for bicycles. The staff are very friendly and helpful. Definitely will come agin when in the area.
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