Sheyenne State Forest Falls

Winter photo taken winter of 2006-2007 courtesy of North Dakota Forest Service

(You may click on the photos for a larger version.)

Location: Ransom County, North Dakota

Water Source: Spring fed

Drop: 10-12 feet

Flow: Year

Directions: From Lisbon go west along Rt. 27 about 8 miles to the Sheyenne State Forest sign to the north (right) and take that road for about 4 miles. Before you go, stop at the State Forest office south of Lisbon on Rt. 32 to get a map and directions to get to the trailhead and to the waterfall.

Notes: I went to Sheyenne State Forest Falls in North Dakota May 21, 2007. The photos above show the waterfall and the area around it. The yellow wildflowers are called Hoary Puccoon. The reddish ones are Torch Flower, also called Prairie Smoke. Neither of them are common in the midwest, so I've never seen them before.

This is probably the most memorable waterfall for me for several reasons. First, on my quest to find and photograph at least one waterfall in every state that has a waterfall, I had photographed waterfalls in 48 states by the time I went to North Dakota, so this was my 49th state in which I found and photographed a waterfall. I was saving Alaska for the last state, because that's the only state I had never been to, so I wanted to finish up with it.

Second, it took a lot of work to determine there was a waterfall in North Dakota and find out where it was. I used Waterfalls USA as a general guide to find some of the waterfalls in some states, and there was no page in that book for North Dakota (also none for Delaware), so that told me the author didn't find any waterfalls in the state. I contacted both the State Tourism office and the State Parks office, and from both places I was told they knew of no waterfalls in North Dakota. So I figured there weren't any, and indicated so on my website. However, I received an e-mail last year from someone who sent me a link to a web page that showed a waterfall in Ransom County, North Dakota. Located in the Sheyenne State Forest, it was referred to as the only natural waterfall in the state. So I contacted the State Forest office, and they confirmed there was a waterfall, but there was no trail to it. Because of family health problems, I didn't pursue the waterfall last year. This spring I recontacted the State Forest office, and they said they had put in a trail to the waterfall last fall, but there were no signs up yet. They did have GPS coordinates for the waterfall, and they could give me a map of the area. They mailed me some information, and I went up to the State Forest office just south of Lisbon and picked up a map of the state forest with the trail drawn in and the GPS coordinates. So this waterfall took a lot more work for me to locate than most, where I have been able to find directions to the falls in a book or on the Internet.

Third, instead of following a marked trail, I followed a trail that at most times was clear where to go, but at other times it wasn't as clear. At times there were two trails I could continue on, and one of them had logs across, so that was pretty clear which way to go. At other points, one of the two choices had clearly been traveled recently, and the fellows at the State Forest office said they went out to the waterfall the previous week, so I took the one that had been recently traveled (hoping it wasn't by some deer). Other choices were of a trail that went up or down the hill or a trail that went around the hill, and so I took the one that went around the trail, because I was told the trail did wind around the hills rather than making steep grades up or down. So with that information and my GPS and the maps, I found the waterfall without getting lost (I did mark the location of my car before I started out to make sure I could get back without getting lost.) The hike in to the falls took just a few minutes under an hour, and the hike out took the same. The walk wasn't strenuous in terms of going up steep hills, and I wasn't hiking in high altitudes like I have in Colroado and Nevada. According to my pedometer, which hasn't been calibrated to my step so is just approximate, the trail was 2.1 miles, which is about what I was told it would be.

Fourth, the Sheyenne State Forest was really pretty, the day was beautiful, and I really enjoyed the hike. And it was fun knowing I was the first "outsider" to follow the trail to find the waterfall. I especially enjoy waterfalls off the beaten trail, where there aren't a lot of tourists around as there are at most of the more famous waterfalls. It's really nice to hike for a couple of miles and then as you round the bend you can begin to hear the water flowing over the falls. I stirred up a couple of deer along the trail, and the wildflowers were blooming, so it was just really pleasant to be out there.

Finally, the people I talked with at the State Forest office were really nice folks and very helpful to me. They went out of their way to help me make it to the falls, and I really appreciate all of their help. If you want to visit this waterfall, be sure to go to the office first to get information and directions to it. They are planning to put signs along the trail and put in some water crossings this summer. They also plan to put up a kiosk at the trailhead with a map to the falls and other features along the trail, so that will help in the future.

Although it was for the most part a very pleasant experience, there were a couple of things that were not so pleasant, as there usually are - they are what keep it interesting. At one point when I was crossing a stream (which you do a couple of times along the trail) I thought I was stepping on solid ground, but my foot kept sinking in the mud. When I pulled my foot out of the mud, I actually pulled my foot out of my shoe and left the shoe in the mud. I managed to pull a very muddy shoe out of the mud and hobbled to level ground to put my shoe back on. And then there were the ticks. I was warned to use insect repellant for ticks (mosquitoes weren't bad yet) and I did spray some on me, but apparently not enough. When I got back to my car and started to get in, I noticed some ticks on me, so I stayed out of the car and took 30 ticks off of my jeans. They especially liked to go into the seams or in creases near the bottom. After I got what I thought was all of them off me, I drove away, but for the rest of the day every once in a while I would feel another tick crawling up my neck or down my arm, or I would see one walking across my dashboard or along my map. Since I had my sunroof open, I would just pick the tick up and hold my arm up out of the sunroof and release it to the wind.

I now have found and photographed at least one waterfall in 49 states, with plans to visit Alaska this summer to complete my goal of photographing waterfalls in every state.


Return to Waterfalls in North Dakota

Home Frogs Waterfalls Little Lulu Grandson Ryan

  Page last updated 12 Jun 2007.
Email comments to